Canada: Ontario man sentenced to 18 months for biting police officers and causing "psychological trauma", despite being HIV negative


Man admits assaulting police, precipitated HIV scare

May 26, 2016
Source: The whig standard

The Crown prosecutor told Justice Larry O’Brien that her office believed 18 months, minus pretrial custody, was an appropriate sentence for a local man who fought with Kingston Police on New Year’s Eve and caused two of them to miss almost a month of work while they underwent HIV therapy, uncertain whether they’d been exposed to the virus.

They hadn’t, according to Hendrick (Henry) PX’s lawyer, Kevin Dunbar. He said his client has since been tested and found to be negative.

But assistant Crown attorney Janet O’Brien argued that the officers didn’t know that at the time, and neither did X when he bit one of them and spattered several with blood from his self-inflicted cuts.

The judge said he was tempted, on the strength of X’s record, to give the 28-year-old “the big sentence” the Crown was seeking, but he instead opted for 12 months, less pretrial custody, as recommended by Dunbar.

He told X that he was receiving the discount largely on the strength of “Gladue principles,” arising from his Gladue Report, a document anyone identifying as aboriginal is entitled to have created. The report is intended to give judges insight into an aboriginal offender’s history, circumstances and cultural perspective.

X’s personal circumstances include the fact that he looks like a black man. But Justice O’Brien, after reading his Gladue report, said he’s Ojibway and his mother was in a residential school.

Consequently, he was credited with seven months for the 141 days he’d spent in pretrial custody and was sentenced to a further five months in jail with two years of probation to follow and a condition requiring that he abstain from street drugs, including marijuana.

X doesn’t like probation. But he’d just pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm to one officer; what the judge felt was only a token attempt to take that officer’s handgun; fighting with the same officer and three others in an attempt to resist arrest; and violating a previous probation imposed in February 2015 that required him to keep the peace.

X’s very first offence was in 2008 as a 20-year-old: A muddled attempt to rob Denny’s at the Riocan Centre.

Since then, he’s returned to court periodically: For packing a large Bowie knife in Kingston’s downtown entertainment district while subject to a weapons ban; beating up a buddy during a visit to the man’s home, for reasons that remain unexplained; violating probation; and other assaults.

In early 2013, he pleaded guilty to a grab bag of charges, including a break-in the previous year, assault with a weapon and a public disturbance charge laid after he turned up at the 2012 Santa Claus parade intoxicated and started telling children along the route that Santa was fake — among other things. Police, after receiving a complaint, found him relatively easily in the crowd, since for a number of years X has fashioned part of his hair into two long horns.

O’Brien told the judge these most recent charges stemmed from a complaint on New Year’s Eve about what was thought to be an assault in progress on Conacher Drive around 7:30 p.m.

Upon arrival, she told the judge, police found X intoxicated and involved in what proved to be a consensual fight with another man.

O’Brien told the judge that the officers decided to arrest him for public intoxication, however, and his girlfriend, who was also present, for violating conditions of her bail.

She told Justice O’Brien X became agitated when his girlfriend was taken into custody and began banging around the inside the cruiser. One officer went to check on him and discovered he’d worked his handcuffs around in front, broken the plexiglass barrier between the seats and was bleeding.

He had to be removed from the damaged vehicle while another was dispatched to transport him. But instead of just waiting, O’Brien told the judge, X suddenly charged his arresting officers, who grounded him.

A little later, after arriving at police headquarters, she said, he became upset again over a necklace that was being placed in his property bag.

The Crown prosecutor said X insisted the clasp hadn’t been closed properly and announced that if it wan’t done to his satisfaction, he was going to fight and police would have to beat him.

Justice O’Brien was told the necklace was removed from the property bag and fastened anew, but X wasn’t satisfied and charged again in the cells area.

Ultimately, there were four police officers trying to get him under control and restrain him, she told Justice O’Brien, and while they were grappling, X reached for the handgun of the last officer in and bit him on the left leg, breaking the skin through his pant leg.

Soon after that, according to Crown prosecutor O’Brien, they learned that X’s girlfriend is HIV positive, which raised the possibility that he also carried the virus.

She noted “this was a prolonged course of conduct” on X’s part and argued that the officers who had to endure treatment were subjected to “psychological trauma.”

Much of X’s behaviour, she conceded, was a consequence of his level of intoxication “and this is a long-standing problem for Mr. X.” But she also told the judge, “this gentleman is not a stranger to violence and he is not a stranger to assaults against police.”

She argued that “Mr X is continuously committing crimes of violence. The sentences have been going up and he has not changed his behaviour in any way.”

The judge noted that X “doesn’t think he needs substance-abuse treatment,” and suggested that “he uses the drugs to mask some of the turmoil that he experiences.”

He told X that by putting him on probation, he hopes he’ll deal “with some of the substantial turmoil that you have.”

The judge also told X he hopes he’ll engage with some of the elders and said “we’re going to try to get you to run with a different crowd.”