Despite his conviction being reinstated for assaulting a man he was trying to arrest, a Regina police constable will keep his job.
This week, the Appeals Court of Saskatchewan reinstated the assault conviction for Robert Power. He had been convicted for kicking a man he was trying to arrest outside the detox centre in Regina in 2012, and was subsequently fired from the police service.
At the original trial, the judge concluded Power used more force than was necessary on Edward Stonechild, who according to documents from the Court of Appeal of Saskatchewan was a chronic alcoholic, in extremely poor physical condition, blind in one eye, and homeless. As a result, the judge found Power guilty of assault causing bodily harm.
Powers’ conviction was later overturned on appeal, and his position with the Regina Police Service was reinstated after he challenged his dismissal.
Deputy Police Chief Dean Rae responded on Wednesday to the news from the court of appeal. He explained why Power will keep his job.
“Although prior to the hearing officer’s decision, the criminal conviction had been overturned and could not form part of the decision, the hearing officer did comment, that even if the conviction were upheld it would have been insufficient to warrant dismissal.”
Rae said Power was “significantly” sanctioned when he came back to work: he wasn’t paid back for the 13 months he was off work, he was put under job probation for 18 months, and was ordered to participate in ethics education and training.
“The 13 month suspension without pay or benefits, although it was not the penalty we imposed, was still one of the most serious sanctions in the history of The Saskatchewan Police Act 1990,” said Rae.
Rae mentioned, at the time, Police Chief Troy Hagen said the sanctions sent a clear message to Power and the rest of the officers.
When it comes to how this will look to the public, Rae said every member of the service knows there are higher expectations of them, as officers.
“We’re professional, in the job we perform, in the community, and I would expect all members of the Regina Police Service to continue on in their professional manner, and deal with the public in that way.”
Rae doesn’t think this incident will affect future cases of officers facing charges – he said each will be considered on a case-by-case basis.