A file photo of RCMP officers. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
An RCMP officer “in serious discomfort” broke his hand on the face of a man who had grabbed his testicles, a Yellowknife court heard on Monday.
After treatment in hospital, the officer was assigned light duty for at least a month.
Daniel Frise – who was high on marijuana – was charged with assaulting a police officer and two counts of obstructing a police officer.
But the 29-year-old Yellowknife resident caught a break in Territorial Court when a judge ignored a joint recommendation for a jail sentence. The two counts of obstruction were also dropped.
Instead of spending three to four months under house arrest with a conditional sentence, as suggested by Crown prosecutor Andreas Kuntz, the man was handed a suspended sentence and probation by Judge Bernadette Schmaltz.
“I don’t believe a jail sentence is necessary,” she said, accepting Frise’s guilty plea. “I’m trying to balance your circumstances and the circumstances of the incident.
“It’s fortunate the only injury was a broken bone. That situation could have gotten far worse … with serious injuries.”
‘He was agitated’
The incident began with a multi-car fender-bender last July 27 in the summer-long construction zone on Franklin Avenue, at Forrest Drive in front the Esso gas station.
At 5 pm, RCMP were called to the collision and found a chaotic scene, with damaged vehicles, people involved in the collision, onlookers, and rush-hour traffic.
An officer noticed Frise standing in the roadway, blocking traffic, taking photos of his car that had some damage.
“He was agitated,” prosecutor Kuntz told the court, noting the officer called for back-up.
Two more officers arrived to help and Frise – who was acting ‘erratically’ – refused their instructions to move aside.
As he tried to tell the cops his side of the story – he believed he had been pushed into another vehicle – they noticed his eyes were bloodshot and he smelled of marijuana.
Once he was told he was under arrest and would be handcuffed, Frise refused to put down a briefcase he was holding.
Instead, he swung at an officer, knocking off the cop’s sunglasses. A struggle ensued, with Frise and the cops ending up on the ground.
Freeing a hand, Frise grabbed an officer “by the testicles,” Kuntz said.
The officer then punched Frise so hard he broke a bone in his hand and had to go to the hospital.
It’s unclear what injuries Frise (who pronounces his name ‘Free-zay’) sustained. But after being hit in the face, he said: “I give up.”
“A custodial sentence is required,” Kuntz told the judge, noting Frise has no criminal record. “It was uncharacteristic behaviour by him, but the consequences were serious.
“[The officer struck Frise] in response to being in serious discomfort.”
Defence lawyer Stephanie Whitecloud-Brass explained her client was ‘devastated’ having just lost a job.
Growing up in a string of foster homes had also left him with “authority issues,” she said.
“He was in a heightened state,” she said, acknowledging he was medically using marijuana at the time. “He wanted to let police know his version of what happened. He understands his action was wrong. He is remorseful.”
She suggested a conditional sentence would be appropriate.
Judge Schmaltz said the entire situation was unfortunate and she “didn’t fault police at all.”
Frise is now on probation for 15 months, where he has to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. He has to report to a probation officer and take whatever counselling is ordered.
He must also complete 100 hours of community service.
“Take those conditions seriously,” the judge told Frise.
It’s not known what was in the briefcase Frise was protecting so closely. He also wasn’t charged with impaired driving.
In court, Frise apologized for his actions.
A Facebook account apparently belonging to Frise had a post Sunday which exhibited some animosity to police about the motor vehicle accident.
“I have a court case where I may be under house arrest,” the post stated. “Yet judging by the way things went when I was arrested I fear things may get nasty.
“The officers failed to collect the evidence I need to prove myself innocent which brings up obstruction of justice and possible corruption within the police force going against the Truth and Reconciliation Act.”