Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cop defends self in obstruction trial

Says discrepancy in notes honest mistake

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In October 2008, a Winnipeg police officer was excited and nervous about testifying in court for the first time in his career. But Const. Paul Clark was in shock after a Crown attorney dropped a case against an alleged drug dealer because she said he and his partner were about to commit perjury.

Now, Clark is testifying in court for the first time in his career, but it is to defend himself and his partner against charges they obstructed justice by changing their story about how the alleged drug dealer was arrested.

On Thursday, Clark said it was only when he reviewed his notes a few days before a preliminary hearing against the alleged dealer arrested by him and his partner, Const. Graeme Beattie, that he realized there was a discrepancy.

Clark said while his partner had written in his notes he had picked up a see-through plastic baggy filled with crack cocaine before chasing the man into a Redwood Avenue house, Clark only saw him pick up a baggy after emerging from the house with the man in custody and a quantity of drugs found inside.

Clark, on the job for three years at the time, said the pair met with Crown attorney Erin Magas before the hearing.

He said Beattie, who had been a police officer for about 21/2 years, first asked her if any video would be shown in court from a camera that was at the back of the house.

"She told us the defence has no obligation to disclose a video, but if there was one, what would it show?" he said.

Clark said after Beattie told her about the baggy issue, Magas closed her folder and said she would be staying the charges because "if I put you on the stand, you'd be perjuring yourself. Your careers aren't worth $6,000 worth of crack."

Clark said Magas asked for the name of their superior, appeared to write it down, and then left the room.

"I was in shock," he said. "I didn't really know what had happened. I was kind of numb. We walked down to the cruiser car and not a word was said by us."

Clark denied they doctored their notes or were afraid there was something on a video that would show they'd lied about the incident.

When defence counsel Aaron Fox asked Clark if there was anything he would do differently in the meeting with the Crown, he said: "I would never let anybody talk to me that way again without speaking up."

Under cross-examination by special prosecutor Robert Tapper, Clark admitted he didn't file a complaint against the Crown or complain to his superiors.

"You didn't do a thing to show you were unhappy because you weren't unhappy with the decision because it saved you from committing perjury," Tapper said, to which Clark said: "I disagree."

Clark agreed there is nothing in either his or his partner's notes that indicates they knew a camera was at the back of the house.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 1, 2012 A9

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