Judge apologizes over RCMP officer ‘vulgar language’ error
Territorial Chief Judge Robert Gorin has issued an apology to a Beaufort Delta RCMP officer, stating a court transcript improperly attributed a curse word to him.
However, the judge stated the misinterpretation had no impact on his decision to acquit Travis Jerome of assaulting Cst Scott Brian Thomas at the Fort McPherson police detachment on October 25, 2019.
“It came to my attention that the transcript that was produced from the recording was not accurate,” stated the judge.
“While the audio recording of the words spoken was not clear, upon listening to the recording it is very apparent that Constable Thomas did not use the vulgar language attributed to him. It is extremely regrettable that the error was made.
“Since the words stated in the transcript and my original reasons for judgment reflect on Constable Thomas’s professionalism, I feel it very important that the record be corrected to the fullest extent possible through these supplemental reasons.”
The transcript initially stated that Thomas, while watching a video of the altercation in the cell, told the court: “As soon as he rolled over to his side and then back, he came up. It’s not real clear on the video, to be honest, it’s not real clear on the video, which is horseshit. He did roll over and that’s when he came up with his right hand.”
However, it has since been determined that Thomas in fact said: “… it’s not real clear on the video, which is unfortunate.”
Altercation on video
As Cabin Radio first reported in April, Jerome was found not guilty of assaulting the RCMP officer who was hitting him. In fact, Jerome could have been acting in self-defence in response to “pain control” techniques being used by Thomas, Gorin determined in his decision.
“There existed a realistic possibility that Officer Thomas was applying excessive force to Mr Jerome immediately prior to the minor motion I observed,” stated Gorin in his decision, dated March 23.
“I found additionally that the Crown had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Jerome was not acting in self-defence when he made that motion.
“Based on all of the evidence presented in this case, I was and remain far from being sure that Mr Jerome punched or attempted to punch Constable Thomas.”
Thomas and his partner, Cst Jenna Moore, had just arrested Jerome after responding to an early morning call about a domestic dispute between Jerome and his girlfriend.
While being transported to the detachment, an apparently intoxicated Jerome became “angry and belligerent” in the patrol vehicle, stated Gorin.
Thomas, with help from Moore, placed Jerome in a cell and had him lie down on his stomach in order to removed the handcuffs and search him.
A struggle ensued, resulting in Thomas losing control of both of Jerome’s arms. Jerome rolled away from Thomas onto his back, then Thomas responded to a “blow or attempted blow” from Jerome by punching Jerome in the face “with a closed fist two times … a third and fourth time,” stated Gorin.
The officers eventually left the cell and locked the door.
The entire incident had been recorded on video.
Last month, as concerns over police brutality were being expressed across the continent, CBC North went to court to obtain the footage.
Jerome told CBC his mother has filed a complaint about the incident with the RCMP’s Civilian Review and Complaints Commission.