‘High-risk’ takedown detailed to court

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Jamie Cote says he was assaulted by Patrol Sgt. Sean Cassidy after the off-duty Winnipeg police officer followed him into the city one late March night in 2017.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/03/2021 (642 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Jamie Cote says he was assaulted by Patrol Sgt. Sean Cassidy after the off-duty Winnipeg police officer followed him into the city one late March night in 2017.

Police officers told court Wednesday, however, it was Cassidy who said he was being followed, leading to a “high-risk” takedown.

Winnipeg Police Service constables Brody Kiez and Chris Rivard testified they were on general patrol when they received a call around 1 a.m. of an off-duty officer being followed by two men in a truck.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Patrol Sgt. Sean Cassidy crossing Kennedy Street after leaving the side doors of the Law Courts Building after his hearing.

The officers pulled into a St. Mary’s Avenue parking lot, turned off their cruiser’s lights and waited for the vehicles to pass.

“We decided to do a high-risk vehicle stop,” Rivard said Wednesday.

When the suspect truck passed, Rivard pulled out of the parking lot and followed it, emergency lights flashing.

Within seconds, the truck “came to an abrupt stop,” Rivard said. “The driver door swung open and a male driver leaped out of the vehicle in a combative stance.”

“It was a scary moment for us,” Kiez said. “I had an imminent threat in front of me.”

Rivard and Kiez got out of the cruiser, firearms drawn, and Rivard demanded the man raise his hands, Rivard said.

“The male just glared at us and retreated back into his vehicle,” he said.

Rivard said an officer he later learned was Cassidy went to the driver’s side door, yelled, “Winnipeg police, show us your hands,” then struggled with the driver — identified as Cote — for a short time before pulling him out of the truck and to the ground.

Rivard said Cote resisted, as he and Cassidy handcuffed him, but Cote was not injured.

Kiez pulled another man from the passenger side of the truck, handcuffed him and placed him in a cruiser.

Kiez said Cassidy told Kiez and Rivard there had been several break-and-enters in the area and an older truck was believed to be connected to the crimes.

Police searched Cote’s truck, found nothing suspicious, and released the two men without charge.

In testimony Monday, Cote said he and a roommate were in La Salle delivering flyers for Cote’s landscaping business when they stopped for a smoke break and noticed a van stop in the middle of the road, about 100 feet away.

The van driver “stared at us, with his lights toward us,” Cote said. “He was just sitting there, which I thought was a little weird, so I said let’s just go and get on with our night.”

As they delivered the last handful of flyers, the van continued to follow them, Cote said.

“At the last house… I put up my hands in an expression of ‘What are you doing?’ (but) no window came down, nothing was said.”

Cote said as he drove out of town toward Winnipeg, the van sped up ahead of him “swerving back and forth to not let me go.”

Cote recorded video on his cellphone of the van swerving in front of him. “Look at this f—ing guy, driving right in the middle so I can’t pass on either side,” Cote can be heard saying on the video, which was provided to court.

Cote said he made a quick hard turn off the Perimeter Highway in an effort to lose the van, after which it turned around and drove into oncoming traffic. He was driving down St. Mary’s Road looking for help when Cote saw a police cruiser “and pulled over instantly.”

“I got out of my truck to flag them down,” he said. “As I did that, the van that was following me stopped behind me, (the driver) got out of his vehicle and told me to get back in mine.”

Confused now that it appeared the van driver was a police officer, Cote backed up to his truck, hands in the air.

Cote said one police officer pulled him out of the truck and took him to the ground, after which he was punched and kneed in the face by a man who was not in police uniform.

“I was yelling: ‘I’m not resisting, please stop hitting me.’”

The trial resumes Friday.

dean.pritchard@freepress.mb.ca

Dean Pritchard

Dean Pritchard
Courts reporter

Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.

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