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Man fights robbery, assault charges using 'suicide by cop' defence

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John Charlette doesn’t deny threatening to rob a cab driver at knifepoint and then pointing the weapon at two police officers who responded to the emergency call.

But the Winnipeg man claims he should walk free of all criminal charges on the basis he was only trying to harm himself that night.

Charlette, 29, was depressed and suicidal and orchestrated the whole July 2011 event with the hopes police would kill him, according to his lawyer.

He nearly got his wish, as the officers responded to his knife threat by shooting and critically injuring him.

"He faked a robbery and wanted police to come. He said to them ‘You are going to have to kill me.’ That’s all he wanted. That’s almost what he got," defence lawyer Jody Ostapiw told court Wednesday during closing arguments.

Charlette is on trial for robbery and assault charges but has pleaded not guilty by offering up the unusual legal defence.

The Crown has a much different take, saying it doesn’t really matter what was in Charlette’s mind at the time.

"Yes, it’s likely his ultimate goal was to die that evening. But it’s irrelevant whether he was really going to stab them," said prosecutor Mark Kantor. "He admitted he brandished the weapon. Those officers believed they were going to be stabbed if they didn’t take the action they did."

Queen’s Bench Justice Rick Saull has reserved his verdict until July 4.

Police were called to the area of St. Mary’s Road and Guay Avenue around 2 a.m., where the cab driver told police he’d picked up a man near Main Street and Selkirk Avenue who tried to rob him. The cabbie escaped the taxi when confronted with a large knife.

Charlette doesn’t deny being responsible, but claims the incident was just a ruse to get police to respond so he could be the victim of what’s often referred to as "suicide by cop."

He continued holding the weapon, then lunged towards the officers when they responded while uttering threats. He spent several days in hospital recovering from his injuries after being shot.

Ostapiw said her client was going through a terrible chapter in his life: He was homeless, fired from his job, on a drinking binge, grieving the death of a loved one and estranged from his family. All of those factors contributed to his actions, she said.

www.mikeoncrime.com

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