A Manitoba judge has ruled that one of two reports written by a Thompson RCMP officer after he punched a man twice in the head in June 2019 must be handed over to the agency that investigates possible police misconduct.
Court of Queen’s bench Judge Shane Perlmutter said in a March 29 decision that an electronic report known as a “subject behaviour/officer response” or SB/OR report must be handed over the the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU). Another report known as a supplementary occurrence report does not have to be turned over, the ruling said.
A previous ex parte order by a judicial justice of the peace said both reports, written by Const. Jeremiah Dumont-Fontaine within four hours of the June 6, 2019 incident, for which he faces an assault charge, had to be turned over to the IIU, which the RCMP contested.
Manitoba RCMP told the CBC that the report had already been turned over.
IIU civilian director Zane Tessler told the CBC that the decision was significant.
“This is one of the first, if not the first [decision] of its kind in Manitoba that deals with defining what is or is not a note,” Tessler said.
Dumont-Fontaine was charged in January 2020 with assault causing bodily harm in relation to the incident, which took place when he was arresting a 50-year-old man outside the Thompson Inn.
That man, identified in a CBC report as Brian Halcrow, died by suicide two days after the officer was charged, though he didn’t know that charges had been laid at the time of his death. Friends of Halcrow, who had a history of depression and had been to jail twice before, said he didn’t want to go back but feared he would because he was accused of assaulting Dumont-Fontaine.
The CBC says court documents provide three different stories of what happened the night Halcrow, a member of Tataskweyak Cree Nation, was punched twice by Dumont-Fontaine, which resulted in him needing to be taken to Thompson General Hospital for stitches.
Thompson RCMP Const. Mark Sterdan’s report said Halcrow threw a punch and Dumont-Fontaine punched him twice in response. Dumont-Fontaine, who didn’t submit to an interview with the IIU or give investigators his notes, said Halcrow threw a hat which struck him in the “facial area” at which point, “fearing further assault,” Dumont-Fontaine punched Halcrow twice. An IIU investigator said in a court document that the hat never hit Dumont-Fontaine.
The officer’s lawyer told CBC that the surveillance video of the incident is grainy and he is confident his client will be found not guilty by reason of self-defence.
Dumont-Fontaine’s trial on the assault charge is scheduled for January 2022.