Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bullies took her dog, police took her dad

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A week full of heartache and torment was too much for Kathleen Beardy, who took her own life Saturday in a back lane on Selkirk Avenue.

She was 11 years old.

Her family remembers Kathleen as a bright, loving girl who enjoyed church on Sunday mornings and was interested in the Bible and aboriginal culture.

But she also endured the ugly side of life.

Hours before her death, bullies stole a puppy that Kathleen had bought for $2 and loved keenly.

A week earlier, she had seen her father handcuffed and arrested by city police.

And, as usual, she had been teased and provoked by neighbourhood youths.

Her family says it was more than a sensitive child like Kathleen could bear. She hanged herself from a tree using her puppy's empty leash.

Her death -- it was witnessed by her best friend who tried in vain to cut her down from the tree -- has outraged her relatives.

Even before Kathleen's suicide, her family had filed two formal complaints about the Sept. 23 arrest on break-and-enter charges of Kathleen's father, Kelly Beardy.

"She just kept talking about her dad, saying that it was the cop's fault that she wasn't going to be able to see him," Kathleen's mother, Christina Beardy, told the Free Press yesterday.

"I hold the police responsible for her death."

Kathleen's 11-year-old best friend has told the Beardy family she pleaded with her not to go through with harming herself, saying "your dad will get out one of these days" and "if you do this, your dad will never get to see you."

Kathleen's final response was "I don't care anymore," according to her friend.

Both the Law Enforcement Review Agency and Winnipeg police professional standards unit are investigating Kelly Beardy's complaints and documented physical injuries, which include a broken nose and nerve damage that will require plastic surgery.

Beardy, 37, claims Winnipeg police officers illegally entered his Burrows Avenue home without a warrant, punched him in the face and handcuffed him while several of his six children looked on, including Kathleen and her two young sisters, aged nine and seven.

Beardy has a lengthy criminal record and was out on bail for previous theft allegations, which he denies. He also denies the new allegations, defence lawyer Martin Glazer said yesterday.

Kathleen Beardy's death has stunned her family and community.

Counsellors were brought in to William Whyte School yesterday, where she had been taking Grade 7 classes. A spokesperson for Winnipeg School Division said all students who wanted to talk about what happened would receive help.

A candlelight vigil was held near the scene of Kathleen's hanging on Sunday night, and another was held last night.

Kathleen enjoyed spending time with her father, which included colouring and "joking around," said her mother.

Kathleen had talked of being a conflict manager when she grew up, as she never liked being subjected to how cruel kids could be, said her mother.

"She told me there's lots of brats at school who are always trying to fight and don't listen," said Christina Beardy.

"She didn't like kids picking on other kids, and when it happened she took on an almost sister-like role in trying to stop it."

On Saturday evening, Kathleen and her best friend ran into some boys they knew who thought it would be fun to grab her puppy, which she'd recently bought for $2 from someone at a neighbourhood doughnut shop, said her mother.

"They told her they were going to keep the dog and they left. It was just a fat little puppy," she said.

The incident appeared to be the final straw for Kathleen in what had been a brutal week.

"I don't even know what to think right now. I'm very hurt and frustrated," said a tearful Christina Beardy.

"There is a lot of anger out there."

Beverly Beardy, 17, was also home at the time her father was arrested and said yesterday police twisted her arm and threatened to arrest her, as well, when she tried to stop them from hurting her father.

"I told them to stop, I'm pregnant, but they asked if I wanted to go with him," she said.

Her father was taken away in a cruiser car and driven to the Hartford Avenue police station, where he claims police continued to assault him while he was restrained and there were no independent witnesses present.

Beardy claims he was knocked to the ground and struck his face on the cement floor, causing the broken nose. He also claims a police officer kicked him in the head.

Police deny assaulting Beardy and say he attacked one of the officers, which prompted them to lay an additional charge of assaulting a police officer.

Glazer said police have not produced any evidence an officer was assaulted or injured by his client, who he described as a simple, non-violent man who suffers from "mental retardation."

Police acknowledge Beardy required medical treatment at Seven Oaks General Hospital on the night of his arrest, but say his injuries were suffered in an accidental fall at the police station.

Beardy was released on bail yesterday on strict conditions, including house arrest. However, he will be allowed to attend his daughter's funeral later this week. Glazer submitted nine photographs yesterday that he took of Beardy on Sept. 27 in the Winnipeg Remand Centre, which show multiple injuries to his face and upper body.

"We submit that my client was a victim of police brutality," Glazer told court. He vowed to call a medical expert who could prove Beardy's injuries are not consistent with falling, but rather of being beaten.

"And his daughter was traumatized by witnessing the police assaulting her father," he said.

There was no publication ban on the bail hearing.

Glazer also tendered letters from the professional standards unit and LERA acknowledging receipt of the family's complaints and outlining the pending investigations.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 4, 2005 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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