Woman gets supervised probation for racist attack

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BRANDON — An Indigenous woman involved in the racially motivated stabbing of a Black man has pleaded guilty to an assault charge.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/01/2022 (220 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

BRANDON — An Indigenous woman involved in the racially motivated stabbing of a Black man has pleaded guilty to an assault charge.

On Thursday, Savannah Catagas, 22, was sentenced to one year of supervised probation for her role in the Sept. 3, 2020, group attack on Kevin Taylor at the Kristopher Campbell Memorial Skate Plaza.

In February 2021, one of five people arrested in the incident, Freedom Williams, pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to 225 days of time served.

Unlike Williams, Catagas did not have a criminal record until her arrest 16 months ago, which is partially why Crown attorney Grant Hughes recommended a lighter sentence.

Annie Huntinghawk, Naomi Williams and Steven Jason Huntinghawk were also charged, and await court appearances.

After Catagas entered her guilty plea over the phone Thursday morning, Hughes provided Judge Donovan Dvorak with a detailed breakdown of the night of Sept. 3, 2020.

At around 7:40 p.m., the Brandon Police Service was called to the intersection of Ninth Street and Princess Avenue after receiving reports a brawl had taken place between an Indigenous man, four Indigenous women and a Black man.

Nearby witnesses told police the attackers had been hurling racial slurs at Taylor before a fight broke out between two men.

“Taylor got the better of him and had him pinned down to the ground to stop him from further punching him,” Hughes said. “And at that time, Ms. Catagas, amongst others, started kicking and hitting Mr. Taylor and eventually another individual came and stabbed him.”

Catagas did not stab Taylor.

Taylor was transported to hospital with a collapsed lung, due to multiple stab wounds. He made a full recovery, court heard.

Catagas was arrested Sept. 5.

Even though the 22-year-old declined to speak during her court appearance Thursday, Hughes read from her statement that served as a direct apology to Taylor: “I’m sorry I said anything to you that day. I didn’t mean to do it. I should have just walked away. I’m glad you’re alive.”

Hughes admitted investigators were unable to determine which one of the five assailants used racial slurs against Taylor.

Defence lawyer Andrew McDonald argued Catagas’ display of remorse and lack of criminal history meant she should instead be given a conditional discharge, which means the guilty plea would not appear on her record.

Having dropped out of school in Grade 10 due to anxiety, Catagas fell into addiction to deal with mental health problems, McDonald added.

“Those factors contribute directly to her abusing substances, her associating with a negative peer group, and they lead directly to the event that is before the court today,” he said.

Dvorak ruled in favour of the Crown’s recommendation and sentenced Catagas to one year of supervised probation, and 25 hours of community service in the next nine months.

— Brandon Sun

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