Homeless man was ‘belligerent, combative’ with police in previous incident, Constable testifies

Constables Colin Bowie, left and Thanh Tran, right, walk with Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof, outside the Elgin St. courthouse.

A man allegedly assaulted by two Ottawa police officers during a 2011 arrest was “very drunk, very belligerent,” when he spat on another officer five years prior, an Ottawa court heard Wednesday.

Hugh Styres is at the centre of an assault trial of Constables Thanh Tran and Colin Bowie who are accused of assault causing bodily harm after eyewitness Tasha Doucette claims she saw Tran trip the drunken homeless man, causing him to fall face first into the ground. The incident occurred Aug. 13, 2011 at the intersection of Henderson and Osgoode Streets.

Const. Grayson Lafoley testified he responded to a similar call for public intoxication at the War Museum in January 2006 where Hugh Styres was with another man.

Lafoley said when he arrived on scene Styres had a small cut on the left side of his cheek after he was grounded by other police.

When Lafoley tried to tend to his wound, Styres became combative and hurled profanities toward him, he said.

“He said, “F—k you, f—k off,’” said Lafoley. “He literally thrashed his head side-to-side, repeating ‘don’t touch me.’ He refused to give me access to his face.”

Then, the officer said Styres shot blood-laden spit toward him, landing on his right pant leg.

“I told him you’re under arrest for assaulting a police officer,” said Lafoley. “He was resisting the process of being led to the cruiser.”

Being on the receiving end of spitting by a detainee is concern for police due to the possibility of transmission of communicable diseases like Hepatitis B and C. When there is blood in the spit, the risk is higher.

Another officer, Det. Joe Pratecante, testified about the Sandy Hill incident to which he responded and spoke to Doucette.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Cappell probed Pratecante on his notes from the incident, questioning him why he chose not to take photos or document the pool of blood on the ground from Styres’ injuries.

“I don’t see any reason to take pictures. I took notes,” said Pratecante. “I thought my notes were enough…to memorialize the scene.”

Pratecante said he noted the two empty bottles of Listerine, but did not seize them as evidence.

The trial continues Thursday.


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