Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hurt inmate a 'liar': defence

Police officer denies inflicting injury

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A man who accuses a Winnipeg police constable of kicking and seriously injuring him is a "pathological liar" whose report of officer misconduct can't be believed, a veteran city defence lawyer says.

In a closing argument Thursday at Const. Ryan Law's aggravated assault trial, Richard Wolson pulled no punches in his own assessment of Henry Lavallee's claims against Law.

"His evidence is not worthy of belief, at all, on any standard," Wolson told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Joan McKelvey.

He asked her to acquit Law.

Law, 30, faces the possibility his policing career will be ruined if he's convicted of brutally assaulting Lavallee by kicking him in the abdomen inside a Public Safety Building holding cell on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 2008.

Soon after leaving police custody, Lavallee was rushed to hospital from the Winnipeg Remand Centre and underwent emergency surgery for a tear in his bowel. Prosecutors allege Law was responsible.

The officer has pleaded not guilty and is presumed innocent.

He recently testified on his own behalf, denying assaulting the 49-year-old Lavallee, whom he and his partner had arrested as a suspect in a vehicle break and enter in the Exchange District.

McKelvey must assess Lavallee's credibility.

Wolson asserts Lavallee lied as many as 25 times in his testimony. The lawyer spent considerable time pointing out elements of Lavallee's evidence he says don't add up.

For example, said Wolson, Lavallee was paraded from the holding cell in front of Law's supervising sergeant just before being taken to the remand centre and didn't complain of ill health or other concerns -- minutes after he was allegedly severely kicked by Law.

Lavallee testified he couldn't walk and had to be dragged by police, but the evidence presented showed the opposite -- that he was walking under his own power, said Wolson. "He walked the entire time on his own," Wolson said.

It was only after being delivered to the downtown lockup that Lavallee first made a claim of being attacked by Law, in the presence of remand staff.

Independent Crown prosecutor Kerry UnRuh took an opposite view, saying Lavallee disclosed the incident at that time because he felt safe enough to do it in front of corrections personnel, and not just police.

It's more likely Lavallee was simply "mistaken" on some points, not outright lying, said UnRuh. He asked McKelvey to consider the "different environment" in which Lavallee lived -- one of homelessness and "dozens" of interactions with police -- when assessing his testimony.

"He's different than you and I," said UnRuh. "It does not surprise me that four years, five years post-incident he does not have a specific recollection."

UnRuh said the defence theory Lavallee sustained the stomach injury prior to being arrested, only to see him quickly drum up a plan to frame Law for doing it, isn't credible.

"With the greatest of respect, it just doesn't make sense," UnRuh said.

A potential date of Feb. 25 was set for McKelvey to issue a verdict.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 10, 2014 A7

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