Former Nunavut RCMP detachment commander found not guilty of assault

The RCMP station in Sanirajak, Nunavut, in March of 2022.  (Jackie McKay/CBC - image credit)
The RCMP station in Sanirajak, Nunavut, in March of 2022. (Jackie McKay/CBC - image credit)

A judge has found a former Nunavut RCMP detachment commander not guilty of assault.

Justice Susan Charlesworth gave her decision Monday in the case of Cpl. Ian Crowe, who was charged in connection to a 2020 incident in Sanirajak.

During a three-day trial in February, the court heard from Crowe and his colleague, Const. Tyson Richard, who both worked at the two-man detachment in 2020.

Crowe is alleged to have repeatedly smashed the face of a Sanirajak man into the gravel outside the RCMP detachment.

Crowe has been off duty since the incident, and is no longer in Nunavut. He was charged in August of 2021.

Charlesworth said in order to reach a verdict, she had to decide whose testimony she believed.

In the end, Charlesworth said Crowe was reliable and came across as truthful throughout the trial, while there were problems with Richard's testimony.

"I find Cpl. Crowe came across as earnest on the stand," she said.

She said Crowe's description of the events was "plausible" and the Crown, through cross-examination, did not discredit him.

"Accordingly, I must acquit," she said.

Among the issues she listed, Charlesworth said she found it "suspicious" that Richard only reported the incident 11 days later, after he and Crowe got into an argument during a fishing trip.

"I do find it odd that Const. Richard said he did not think his supervisor had the right to tell him what to do," Charlesworth said.

Footage from inside the detachment shown during the trial showed Crowe kneeing and punching the Sanirajak man inside a cell.

"The swearing and the knee punch in the cell are evidence of a loss of temper," Charlesworth said.

Crown and defence lawyers had agreed at the beginning of the trial that the cell block footage did not amount to assault.

Charlesworth also said Richard failed to make notes about the incident or take any photos of evidence.

Richard said during the trial that he did not note the incident in his report because he was worried about Crowe, his superior, reading it.

Crown lawyer Leo Lane appeared in court by video, while defence lawyer Robb Beeman and Crowe called in.