A Police Services Act hearing where three local police officers are each charged with a count of misconduct is taking place at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay. The hearing is expected to conclude on Friday.
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A man involved in an alleged misconduct case with three local officers was cautioned several times to answer questions and not go off on tangents during a hearing Wednesday morning.
Det. William Wowchuck, Det.-Const. Ron Popowich and Det.-Const. Brad Bernst were each charged with a count of misconduct by unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority and one count of discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act following a Sept 2011 incident.
Richard Burns, 50, says the officers assaulted him and stole money from him during an arrest outside of the Money Mart on Memorial Avenue.
The three officers pleaded not guilty to the charges at a hearing at the Valhalla Inn. The hearing resumed Wednesday with a 38 minute delay, after which Burns took the stand.
Under cross-examination from the officers’ lawyer, Seth Weinstein, Burns appeared agitated toward Weinstein as the lawyer tried to establish what happened last September.
Burns accused Weinstein of making statements instead of fielding questions.
“Can you just ask me a question and I’ll answer it,” Burns said.
“If you answer the questions this will be a lot simpler,” Weinstein said.
Weinstein asked Burns whether the officers patted him down, caused injuries to his face, searched his wallet and other details related to the case, but Burns answered that he couldn’t recall.
He then accused Weinstein of “showboating.”
“Mr. Burns this is not going to go well if you’re going to be antagonistic toward defense counsel,” hearing officer Morris Elbers said.
Burns then asked for a five minute break.
Once he returned, Weinstein continued his line of questioning until Burns made suggestions that the incident wasn’t isolated, but rather retribution for a human rights settlement he was awarded against the police force.
Meanwhile, Weinstein suggested the hearing might be a way for Burns to get money from the force “again.”
“How do you know I received money?” Burns asked. “The settlement is confidential.”
Elbers then recessed the hearing.
The hearing continues Thursday and is expected to conclude Friday.
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