A Saskatoon prosecutor says that people in leadership positions were offside when they publicly attacked a security guard who was recorded arresting an Indigenous woman outside a grocery store in April 2021.
The security guard, Cameron McMillan, lost his job and professional license after the video of his arrest of Annette Custer went viral.
In a statement at the time, Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said seeing the video made him feel angry and said, "We can't ignore as a community that not everyone would have been treated this way."
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron at the time said the force used to detain Custer was an example of how First Nations women are "disproportionately targeted and victimized."
Ultimately, however, Custer was charged and then found guilty of theft and assault. The security officer acted within his rights, Judge Doug Agnew wrote in his decision this summer.
Custer was in Saskatoon provincial court for her sentencing hearing on Monday. Outside the courthouse, Crown prosecutor Melodi Kujawa chastised Clark and Cameron.
"We shouldn't have public figures commenting on things that are before the court," Kujawa said.
"When this isn't your area of expertise, when you don't understand all the facts, when you only have one side of something, offering an opinion as a public figure is not always a wise thing to do. And this is exactly why."
In his decision, Agnew noted that Custer admitted during her trial that she had gone to the grocery store intending to steal food. She had hidden a roast and some cheese in her purse.
At her May 2022 trial, Custer said she took the roast and other items because her income from social assistance left her with little money to feed her family or buy gas to drive her child to school.
"She then deliberately left the store having paid for certain items, but not those concealed in her purse: those, she stole," Agnew wrote.
"Ms. Custer was aware of the possibility of there being store security. When she was stopped by Mr. McMillan upon leaving the store with the stolen merchandise, there was no suggestion of surprise on her part."
Cameron McMillan, a former security guard, said in his victim impact statement that no one wants to hire "a public relations liability." (Don Somers/CBC)
On Monday. McMillan read a victim impact statement into the record.
"Based on the claims of Ms. Custer and her supporters, I had been fired from my job under false pretenses, had my license to continue in my career revoked by the ministry which regulated it, read thousands of hateful comments and even official statements by people I had considered friends," he said.
"So-called 'respected leaders' publicly expressed desires to commit physical violence against me, and were praised for it."
McMillan has since had his license restored on appeal but cannot find work in an industry "reluctant to be seen hiring a 'public relations liability.' "
Custer returns to court later this week to set dates to continue the sentencing hearing.