Former store worker, RCMP investigator testify as 'anti-maskers' trial continues

·3 min read
David Robert West of Riverview shown outside the Moncton courthouse on Feb. 17. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)
David Robert West of Riverview shown outside the Moncton courthouse on Feb. 17. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)

Cross-examination of an RCMP officer Tuesday dominated the trial of a Riverview man accused of violating New Brunswick's pandemic rules at a grocery store in 2020.

David Robert West is accused of violating the province's Emergency Measures Act by not wearing a mask at the Main Street Superstore in Moncton on Dec. 31, 2020.

West's trial on the grocery store allegation began May 18. West also faces criminal charges that will be the subject of a separate trial at a future date.

Crown prosecutor Logan Landry called a former Superstore employee and the lead RCMP investigator to testify before closing his case.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

Tammy Feere was counting customers entering the store. She said a group of four to five "anti-maskers" entered without wearing masks.

"They told me to go f--k off and kept going," Feere said, adding West made the comment.

Feere said another employee pushing carts told the group to put on a mask. She called the store manager and the police were called.

Under cross-examination, Feere said her manager James Walker had told her customers needed to show proof of an exemption. She said she was told proof wasn't required sometime after the incident.

Provincial court Judge Ronald LeBlanc allowed a supporter of West, Eric St-Amand, to speak on his behalf and carry out cross-examination of witnesses as West doesn't have a lawyer.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

St-Amand's cross-examination of RCMP Const. Kamil Kalbarczyk took up most of the day.

Kalbarczyk was among several officers who responded and helped arrest West.

The officer said during cross-examination West didn't have a mask exemption and that another member of the group had one that appeared to be fake.

Later after being read his rights, the officer said West spontaneously told him "wearing a mask is bullshit."

The judge repeatedly cautioned St-Amand to stick to the facts of the case as he asked theoretical questions about police and court procedure. The Crown repeatedly objected to questions he said were vague, irrelevant or legal issues the judge would need to decide.

At one point in the afternoon, St-Amand asked whether people are property and later whether West had been "trespassed."

No statement from accused

St-Amand asked Kalbarczyk why no statements were gathered from West and the group he was with. The officer said other witness statements and store security footage would be enough to prove the charge.

Kalbarczyk asked whether the officer was misinterpreting the law, at which point the Crown objected.

"If you could only get at the point, sir, again you're asking questions that are too vague to answer," the judge said to St-Amand.

After the two witnesses, the Crown closed its case.

St-Amand alleged the store's security footage, played earlier in the trial, was missing some footage and had been edited to remove sections. However, the Crown had already said Superstore had no other footage related to the case.

St-Amand said they intend to call 10 witnesses to testify in West's defence.

The case continues Sept. 13 and 14.

Toward the end of the afternoon, St-Amand said they would need to see paperwork proving Landry, the Crown, was actually a representative of the province's attorney general and that the Queen had delegated authority to Canada's governor general.

The judge rejected those requests.

The trial is among a series of cases involving the same people accused of violating pandemic restrictions in late 2020 and early 2021, slowly moving through provincial court in Moncton.

West and two others from the grocery store case were later arrested at a protest against pandemic restrictions in front of Moncton city hall in January 2021.

His trial, and the trial of Nicholas DeAngelis and Britney Green, related to that incident are also ongoing. At least one judge has suggested in court the rules they allegedly broke may have contravened the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

DeAngelis and Green are also charged in connection with the Superstore incident, but have yet to stand trial. Both were in court supporting West.

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