Taser compliance at RCMP branch ‘not the best,’ trial hears
October 19, 2023 By Andrew Bates, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Oct. 19, 2023, Grand Bay-Westfield, N.B. – Compliance with Taser sign-out policies at the Grand Bay-Westfield detachment were “not the best,” but tightened up after breach of trust charges were laid against an RCMP officer, court heard at his trial.
Osama Ibrahim, 29 is charged with assault, sexual assault, assault while using or threatening to use a baton, conductive energy weapon and handcuffs, assault while choking and breach of trust from December 2021 to February 2022. A girl, then 16, testified that Ibrahim, then 27, had been physically, emotionally and sexually abusive during visits after telling her parents that he wanted to marry him.
Ibrahim was on administrative leave due to an unrelated code of conduct investigation, Saint John police said when charges were laid in September 2022. Witnesses have testified that he often stayed at the family’s business and home for hours, mostly in his RCMP uniform, and would show the girl and her family his equipment, including handcuffs, a baton, bullets, magazine, gun and a Taser, which the girl’s father testified Tuesday would “shoot blue light.”
Ibrahim’s lawyer, T.J. Burke, has said during cross-examination that the officer never activated his Taser when with the family, which is done by pulling the trigger. He has suggested that the abusive incidents involving Ibrahim were invented, and that any documented incidents were done in a joking manner.
The girl’s identity is protected by a publication ban. Brunswick News is withholding details which would identify the complainant.
On Wednesday, Cst. James MacKinnon, then of the Grand Bay-Westfield RCMP, said that Ibrahim would come to the detachment two or three times monthly to cover shifts. He said night shifts would generally run from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., followed by two hours spent on call.
He said he worked shifts with Ibrahim and knew he would go to the Saint John area for meals.
MacKinnon said that on the night of Dec. 31, 2021, the same night as a fatal police shooting on the Kingston Peninsula, Ibrahim was working and called for assistance from the Saint John Police Force with a “disturbance.”
MacKinnon, who was off shift, said he asked the other officer on shift “what the heck is he doing in the city? Get him out of the city.”
He told Crown prosecutor Nicholas Lavigne that you can do police work outside of your patrol area, but “you don’t want to get involved too much, if you don’t have to.”
A municipal works employee, Peter Butler, testified Wednesday that around 2 a.m. on Dec. 31st, he had called Saint John police’s non-emergency line to report after he’d seen an RCMP car during several passes on a night shift, and was concerned in case something had gone wrong.
He said the officer seemed “bothered,” but did not raise his voice, and the discussion was short. The girl’s father had testified Tuesday that Ibrahim had been yelling, and then later complained to the family over the phone.
MacKinnon testified that the computers in RCMP cars report a vehicle’s position and deactivate after a time when turned off, and that officers must radio into dispatch each hour if it’s off.
Cst. John Galloway, then with the Grand Bay-Westfield RCMP, said he worked a 10-hour shift with Ibrahim on the night of Feb. 12 where he estimated Ibrahim was in the Saint John area for a total of five to six hours. He said Ibrahim was initially resistant to a request to join him on a call before agreeing to attend. He produced screenshots showing a police vehicle at locations corresponding to the family business and the family’s home.
Galloway and MacKinnon agreed with Burke that Ibrahim never failed to attend a call during their shifts with him. Both officers said they would occasionally go home to Saint John for food for about half an hour at a time. However, neither could quote the specific policy on restrictions for meal breaks.
Galloway said there was a sign-out sheet for Tasers with return times, but that adherence to procedure was was “not the best” at the time, and when asked by Burke, said they became more strict after “a lot of questions” were asked in the wake of this case.
He told Burke that a visiting officer may get a quick briefing, but that he had no knowledge if Ibrahim was ever given policies involving tasers or staying in the patrol area. He said other than checking that a weapon was functional at the start of a shift, there’d be “no reason” to pull the trigger of a device to generate current.
During continued cross-examination Wednesday, the girl’s mother said Ibrahim occasionally left his duty belt, including his weapon, with her, and once left it at their house while they went out together to get Tim Hortons. Burke said Ibrahim will testify that he never left his belt at their home.
When Burke asked, the mother clarified comments made Tuesday that she confronted Ibrahim after seeing him fighting with her daughter “like a man,” and that he then threatened to do “the exact same to you” if she talked. On the stand Wednesday, she said through an interpreter that he actually said “are you jealous of me playing with your daughter, do you want me to do the same thing to you.” She added he said it “in a playing way.”
The mother also testified she once saw Ibrahim put his handcuffs on her daughter at their home, that she told him never to do it and he agreed. She also said that she asked her daughter what was going on once before Ibrahim left town when she saw bruising on her arm, and at the time her daughter said she may have hit herself while sleeping.
After issues with an interpreter on Tuesday who was conversing with the mother while giving replies, Burke said they reviewed the tape and there was nothing “significant” to prejudice his client. A second interpreter was brought in, and Burke said his client was content that the interpretation was precise.
The trial is scheduled for seven days, and is to continue Thursday.
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