Officer, Wallen face off
Disciplinary hearing elicits conflicting stories
By Frank Armstrong
Local News - Tuesday, August 17, 2004 @ 07:00
Mark Wallen and Adrian Parkes crafted a “carefully scripted story” to turn a run-in with a Kingston Police officer into a heated public racial-profiling spectacle, a lawyer representing the officer in a disciplinary hearing charged yesterday.
Const. Clint Wills is charged with unnecessary or unlawful arrest and excessive use of force after a much-publicized March 24, 2003, incident. Wills stopped Wallen, who was then 19, and Parkes, who was 17, and held a gun on them on their way home from basketball practice.
While cross-examining Wallen and Parkes at the disciplinary hearing, defence lawyer Harry Black suggested Wallen intended to teach Wills a lesson for stopping them.
Black said the two young men colluded on their stories to “stoke” the flames of public debate over racial profiling.
“Wasn’t it the case that you decided to push this just as far as you could?” Black asked Wallen in his cross-examination.
Black suggested Wallen had intentionally forced Wills to draw his gun by refusing to co-operate with his requests to stop and talk and by refusing to take his hands out of his pockets.
“You tried deliberately to see how far you could push this officer,” Black said, pacing the floor in front of Wallen at the witness table.
“That’s incorrect,” Wallen replied.
“You tried to make this officer think you had, on your person, some kind of weapon,” Black said, looking the young man in the eye.
“That’s incorrect,” Wallen repeated.
Wallen and Parkes told adjudicator Gregory Connolley that Wills pulled them over on Kingscourt Avenue, near Concession Street, while they were walking home from basketball practice at Queen Elizabeth Collegiate and Vocational Institute.
They said Wills pulled up beside them, got out, and asked them to stop.
Wallen said he told his friend to keep walking and that they did.
Parkes said they stopped and asked Wills what was going on.
Both young men testified Wills didn’t immediately tell them why he was stopping them and instead ordered them to take their hands out of their jacket pockets. They testified that they refused, even when he asked them a second time, until he pulled out his handgun and trained it on Wallen.
They both said his hands shook as he held the gun.
Both young men said they’d been pulled over by police a number of times before and had never been charged with anything.
Wallen’s mother, Donna Wallen, would testify at the end of the day that her son had been pulled over by the police three times in the three months prior to the night in question and that she was so stressed out about it that she had bought him a cell-phone.
Wallen said he didn’t co-operate with Wills because he felt he was being harassed again.
“I had enough,” Wallen said.
He said being harassed by police officers had become “part of my life.”
In March 2001, Wallen and his 12-year-old brother, Andrew, were forced from their father’s Mercedes by police at gunpoint and made to kneel on Armstrong Road. The two were released after police, responding to a 911 call, realized they had the wrong suspects.
Wallen and Parkes both testified that Wills holstered his gun when they finally took their hands out of their pockets, but then shone his flashlight in their eyes.
They said Wallen swore at the officer and told him to take the beam out of his eyes, but Wills refused.
Black suggested Wills actually trained the light on Wallen’s chest to make sure he wasn’t carrying any weapons.
Wallen testified Wills then told them he was investigating a tip that two men wearing dark clothing were looking into cars in the neighbourhood.
Parkes said Wallen asked Wills a number of times if he could use the phone to call his mother and that Wills refused to let him. However, he said Wills did nothing when Wallen pulled out the phone while the officer was on his radio calling for backup.
Soon, Const. Curtis Borel arrived in his police cruiser. Wallen and Parkes said Borel was courteous and professional and defused the tension between the young men and Wills.
Nonetheless, Borel faces a charge of unnecessary or unlawful arrest for helping Wills to arrest the teens.
Borel handcuffed Wallen and went through his gym bag while Wills handcuffed Parkes and went through his bag, Parkes said.
He said Wills told him he could have killed Wallen.
“He said he’s got to watch his attitude because his attitude could have gotten him shot tonight,” Parkes testified, adding that Wills told him this about five times.
Donna and Mark Wallen testified the cellphone remained on for a while after Borel arrived at the scene.
Donna Wallen said she heard a voice that was not her son’s say there was a warrant out for his arrest, then she said she heard a voice say he was under arrest for suspicion of criminal activity and that he had a right to a lawyer.
Wills and Borel released Wallen and Parkes after searching their bags, but Wallen asked for their names and badge numbers and the next day lodged a complaint with Kingston Police.
Two months later, Wallen and Wills crossed paths at The Hub, the entertainment district at Princess and Division streets.
Black suggested Wallen, who was with a large boisterous group of friends, began shouting at Wills.
He suggested Wallen called his client “the cowboy cop,” then pointed at him as if he was shooting him with two pistols.
Black said Wallen threw himself into a wall in the police search position and said: “This is what the racist cop did to me.”
The defence lawyer also suggested Wallen put his hands in his coat pockets and dared Wills to make him remove them.
Wallen said he hadn’t said or done any of those things.
“No sir. I don’t speak to officers or people of authority like that,” Wallen said.
Donna Wallen said her children grew up in New York City and that she taught them to behave in the presence of police officers.
Wallen also said he couldn’t have dared Wills to remove his hands from his coat pockets.
“From what I recall I wasn’t wearing a jacket,” he said.
Wallen said he was barred from The Hub after that night, but that he’d done nothing wrong.
He said he pointed out Wills to one of his friends and a police officer started yelling and his friend started yelling back.
The hearing resumes tomorrow.