Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Victim's injury consistent with being kicked: MD

Physician testifies at police officer's trial

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Prosecutors have closed the assault case against a Winnipeg police officer accused of kicking and seriously wounding a suspect who was on the floor of a holding cell at the Public Safety Building.

Const. Ryan Law's defence team of Richard Wolson and Saul Simmonds will present testimony from a U.S. medical expert today as they try to prove he's not guilty of assaulting Henry Lavallee on Nov. 22, 2008.

Law, 30, was arrested in 2009 after an internal investigation sparked when Lavallee, now 49, was rushed to hospital from the Winnipeg Remand Centre hours after leaving police custody.

Lavallee underwent emergency surgery to repair a tear in his bowel.

He spent the night in the emergency room and his condition appeared to worsen, Dr. Ethel MacIntosh, the Crown's final witness, testified Monday.

"He required life-saving surgery. He was extremely ill," MacIntosh said.

'This was a very acute, progressive injury. This was not something that had been smouldering over days. It was a very fresh injury'

She found a two-centimetre laceration to his bowel and a six- to eight-cm tear in connective tissue that passes blood to the bowel, she said.

It was an unexpected place for such an injury, and there was nothing obvious to suggest how it happened.

She put it down to "very severe" blunt trauma to Lavallee's abdominal wall.

"Court has heard testimony from Mr. Lavallee that he was kicked in the stomach.

"Is that injury consistent with that type of force?" independent prosecutor Kerry UnRuh asked her.

"Yes, it is," MacIntosh replied.

A key element of the Crown's case against Law is being able to prove his injury took place within a specific timeline of events.

MacIntosh described the nature of the injury Lavallee suffered as one that got worse as time went on, and was inflicted in the 24 hours before he underwent surgery at 9 a.m. on Nov. 23, 2008.

"This was a very acute, progressive injury. This was not something that had been smouldering over days," MacIntosh said. "It was a very fresh injury."

Lavallee was arrested and taken to the PSB around 2:10 p.m. the previous day, court heard.

He said he was kicked around 2:30 p.m., escorted out of the building 20 minutes later and transported to the remand centre.

He was transported to the emergency room after 7:45 p.m.

A paramedic previously testified Lavallee showed no visible sign of injury.

Defence lawyer Simmonds challenged aspects of MacIntosh's testimony in court compared to what she told a professional standards unit investigator in a December 2008 statement.

Where she at one point described the injury to Lavallee's bowel in court Monday as a "large hole," she told police it was more akin to a "small perforation."

MacIntosh also indicated she couldn't tell if it was a kick that caused the abdominal injury, but maintained there there was "no evidence of any other reason" other than he had suffered blunt force trauma for the existence of the wound.

 

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 3, 2013 A6

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