A veteran Winnipeg police officer is on life-support after falling down a flight of stairs in an off-duty accident.
Const. Peter O'Kane, 42, suffered critical brain trauma in the incident Saturday night, several sources said Tuesday. He was at a gathering with friends, watching an Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view, when he was injured.
"It's just horrible news," said a longtime police colleague. "Very upset about this," said another.
O'Kane is one of the city's most well-known police officers.
Born in Ireland, O'Kane made a name for himself as a professional boxer who was once the No.2-ranked cruiserweight in Canada. He began his fight career in 1999 while employed as a police officer and hung up his gloves for good in 2006. He was trained by Winnipeg's Donny "The Golden Boy" Lalonde, a former world champion.
"I've got a good job and boxing isn't making me rich. But I love it, it's in my blood and I want to push my own personal envelope as far as I can," O'Kane said in a 2002 interview before a big fight.
"Peter gives us a sports figure that all Manitobans can be proud of," Lalonde said. "We don't want to be dealing with the Mike Tyson types. We want to build a committed, focused stable of fighters that represents themselves, our group and the community with class... Peter exemplifies all of that."
O'Kane also exemplified a street cop, one who personally knew many of the thugs and gang members he dealt with every day. That earned him the respect of his superiors and the guys he locked up.
O'Kane famously once challenged an associate of the Hells Angels, Ralph "Junior" Moar, to meet him in the ring for a sanctioned bout, only to have police brass pull the plug, citing a conflict of interest.
"Junior Moar would never want to fight me because he knows he would get pounded," O'Kane told the Free Press at the time.
More recently, O'Kane has been at the centre of serious criminal allegations. He was cleared of perjury in a February 2011 decision, only to have the acquittal reversed earlier this fall on appeal.
The charges stemmed from an allegedly improper search of a downtown hotel room and the seizure of nearly a kilogram of cocaine and $18,000 cash in 2005. The Crown stayed drug-trafficking charges against the suspect and an accomplice when questions were raised at a preliminary hearing about the validity of a police search warrant. O'Kane and his former partner, Const. Jess Zebrun, were arrested in January 2008. They are alleged to have lied to a magistrate to obtain the search warrant.