(Published in 24 Hours July  2, 2013)

No justice for cop who got punched


   By Leo Knight




When it comes to the effectiveness of the justice system in B.C., I harbour no illusions. Having spent a career in and around the system, I thought nothing could surprise me. I was wrong.

On Canada Day, a quiet news day by any measure, a story broke out of Kelowna that two men alleged by police to be Hells Angels associates, Thomas Volker and Pedro Amestica, were acquitted of assaulting a police officer.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 27, 2011, two RCMP officers working with Kelowna’s downtown enforcement unit came upon a fight in front of a nightclub called Sapphire.

At the time, police said the two officers were trying to break up the fight when one was attacked from behind, put into a headlock and punched in the face several times. Back-up officers were called and two men were taken into custody.

Now, you would think that those who came into contact with a police officer in circumstances such as this would be found guilty. In law, there is a Latin expression, Res Ipsa Loquitor, which means the thing speaks for itself.

The police came upon a fight. They moved to break it up and one of the officers was punched. Sounds simple, right? Apparently not.

The defence made the case that the two accused didn’t know that the officer in question was with the police, and thus the charge of assaulting a police officer could not be proven.

The judge accepted this explanation and acquitted the pair.

This might have been a just result had the officers been in plain clothes. But they weren’t. They were in uniform. You would think the bright yellow stripe on the officers’ trousers might have been obvious, or that the word “police” on the back of their ballistic vests might have been a clue. Remember, police at the time said the officer was approached from behind.

This decision is an insult to police and to the intelligence of all.


Prime Time Crime

Columns 2013