Police officer is found guilty of assault after surveillance footage showed him punching a homeless man in the head while he was on his knees in the snow
- Halifax police officer Laurence Gary Basso was found guilty of assaulting a homeless man outside a shelter in Nova Scotia in February 2018
- Footage shows him striking Patrice Simard, 54, in the face as he is on his knees
- Simard sustained a broken nose during the incident, according to a report
- Basso testified that Simard hit him first, but the judge said the force he used against him was ‘not proportionate or necessary’
A police officer in Canada was found guilty of assaulting a homeless man and using excessive force against him outside a homeless shelter last year.
Shocking footage shows Halifax police officer Laurence Gary Basso, 37, punching Patrice Simard in the head at Metro Turning Point shelter last winter.
Police contacted Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team in March 2018, after receiving information about the assault.
Footage shows Halifax police officer Laurence Gary Basso, 37, (left), punching Patrice Simard, 54, (right), after forcing him onto his knees at Metro Turning Point shelter last winter
Basso was called to the shelter to remove Simard from the premises after he was caught drinking there in violation of the rules.
Patrice Simard, 54, sustained facial injuries, including a broken nose, during the altercation on February 25, 2018.
Basso was charged assault causing bodily harm and had pleaded not guilty in May last year.
Footage showed him arriving at the scene and walking towards Simard, who was sitting on a bench, before the officer grabbed him and forced him on to his knees.
He then proceeds to punch him in the face in the video, which was used as vital evidence in the trial.
Giving evidence, Simard repeatedly said he had almost no memory of what had happened until he awoke the next day in a police lockup, CTV News Atlantic reported.
Basso testified that Simard hit him first, but a judge said the footage proved he used excessive force against Simard.
‘It was neither proportionate, nor reasonable, nor necessary,’ Judge Laurel Halfpenny-MacQuarrie said during a hearing on Wednesday.
Basso claimed that he grabbed Simard’s backpack and shoulder, and that he then fell to his knees and punched the officer in the thigh.
Footage shows Basso approaching Simard as he sat outside a homeless shelter in winter
Basso can be seen striking Simard in the face and then stands over him as he lies defenseless in the snow when the incident happened in February 2018
The officer told the court he hit Simard in the face with his hand to prevent Simard from hitting him twice.
Crown attorney Peter Dostal was reported by CTV News as saying: ‘I don’t believe this case would have gone the way that it would have but for the fact that we had the video showing what really, quite frankly, happened at the time.
‘This particular case was one where we had a particularly disadvantaged individual — a homeless individual — out in the cold in the middle of the winter, intoxicated,’ he added.
The officer, who has worked with Halifax Regional Police for 15 years, was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm in Halifax provincial court on Wednesday.
He is still employed with the force but has been suspended with pay.
Halifax Regional Police would not comment on the case but it released a statement, describing the conviction of one of its officers as ‘troubling.’
The statement, given to CTV News Atlantic, added: ‘We recognize that police officers are expected to be above reproach at all times. It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment further on a court process,’ said police in the statement.
‘Following the handing down of the verdict this morning, we will take the necessary time to work through our next steps.’