Cop’s honesty under fire, DUI charges dropped

By ,Ottawa Sun

First posted:

The Crown asked a judge to dismiss drunk driving charges against a 35-year-old man Thursday after a long and merciless cross-examination of the arresting officer.

“The basic elements of the charge have not been satisfied such that there is no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction,” prosecutor Lisa Miles said.

“I think that’s a very responsible way for the Crown to proceed,” said Judge Patrick Sheppard.

He acquitted John Doherty, 35, of impaired driving and driving with a blood-alcohol level over 80.

The surrender came after defence lawyer Michael Edelson spent more than a day grilling Const. Nicolas Benard over the circumstances leading to Doherty’s downtown arrest following a 7 a.m. fender bender in October 2010.

Questioning the grounds for the arrest would have placed in jeopardy breath tests allegedly showing that Doherty’s blood-alcohol level was more than double the legal limit.

Edelson was unimpressed with Benard’s limited note-taking during the event, particularly regarding Doherty’s alleged signs of intoxication and the calibration of the roadside screening device he administered.

The day before, Edelson had attacked his very reliability as a witness by dredging up Benard’s 2010 guilty plea to an act of discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act.

Prodded by Edelson, Benard described how he had pretended to be Const. Brett Chisholm in order to call in sick for him. Chisholm was, in fact, in Cuba.

“You knew he was on vacation, no doubt on a beach somewhere, and that he wasn’t sick,” Edelson said.

The cross-examination became a blood sport, as Edelson turned to a transcript of Benard’s first interview with police investigating the police act charge.

“So far, in two pages, you’ve lied twice,” he said, insisting the court be made aware of the “depth of his dishonesty.”

“He’s an abject liar.”

Edelson returned to the October arrest, playing cellblock video showing Doherty walking evenly and easily down cellblock halls.

Edelson suggested it would have been “impossible” that the “vivid signs of impairment” described by Benard would have vanished in the short drive to the police station.

Though it did not emerge in court, Benard was praised in 2008 for rescuing three Barrie, Ont., damsels in distress.

A letter of commendation lauded his “kindness and understanding” after the “young, naive girls” found themselves in an apartment with three men who were “determined to create a sexual situation.”

Twitter: @ottawasuntonys