Officer denies trying to erase photo radar ticket
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/11/2021 (481 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Winnipeg Police Service officer accused of trying to fix his own speeding ticket was instead conducting an “integrity check” of the photo radar database, a court has been told.
Patrol Sgt. Sean Cassidy is on trial charged with the unauthorized use of a computer, fraud and obstruction of justice.
“There was no intent to stop a ticket from issuing,” defence lawyer Lisa LaBossiere told provincial court Judge Cindy Sholdice in her closing argument Wednesday.
Court has heard testimony Cassidy was driving his personal vehicle following a breakfast meeting with co-workers on Oct. 1, 2019, when he was caught by a photo radar camera speeding in a school zone. Cassidy drove up to the radar vehicle and talked to the operator, who confirmed he would receive a ticket.
Cassidy, who at that time was assigned to the photo radar unit, testified when he returned to work that morning he received an email with the licence plate numbers of four vehicles to be added to a database of vehicles exempt from photo radar and red light camera enforcement.
Cassidy testified when he added the four licence plate numbers to the database, one of them did not appear, causing him to be concerned. Cassidy said he wanted to “test the integrity of the system” and submitted his own plate number several times to see if it would show up.
When another officer in the unit asked Cassidy about a report an officer had approached a photo radar operator that morning, Cassidy readily admitted it was him, LaBossiere told court Wednesday, noting Cassidy continued to try to enter his plate number into the database two more times that day.
“It makes no sense whatsoever that after being caught, he would go into the software with the intention of zapping his ticket,” LaBossiere said. “That is just not consistent with an individual who has just been confronted about doing something bad.”
LaBossiere said Cassidy had little training in the software and was fumbling through trial and error “to trouble-shoot what the problem was.”
To be found guilty of the charges against him, the court must be satisfied Cassidy acted with the intent to deceive, LaBossiere said.
“His explanation is reasonable for someone who had little experience with the software or plate list,” she said.
While the timing of Cassidy’s activity on the database may look suspicious, it does not amount to a “smoking gun,” LaBossiere said. “It is not enough to convict.”
Sholdice reserved her decision.
This is not the first time the veteran police officer has been before the court. Earlier this year, Cassidy stood trial accused of assaulting a man following a prolonged highway chase in March 2017. A verdict in that case is set to be delivered next month.
In 2019, Cassidy was charged with unsafe storage of a firearm, a charge which was later stayed, and possession of a restricted weapon at an unauthorized place.
Cassidy pleaded guilty to the second charge last year and received an absolute discharge.
Cassidy remains suspended pending the outcome of his outstanding charges.
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.