Mountie accused of assault rejects restorative justice offer, chooses trial

An RCMP officer was filmed repeatedly punching a man during an arrest in Campbellton, N.B. on Friday, July 2, 2021. (Facebook - image credit)
An RCMP officer was filmed repeatedly punching a man during an arrest in Campbellton, N.B. on Friday, July 2, 2021. (Facebook - image credit)

A New Brunswick RCMP officer accused of repeatedly punching a man during an arrest in Campbellton is opting for a trial instead of an out-of-court alternative.

Pierrick Caron was charged in June following an independent investigation into the 74-second arrest video captured on July 2, 2021.

A social media video shows an RCMP officer attempting to restrain a man, later identified as André Mercier, squirming on the ground.

While on top of him, the officer strikes Mercier several times in the head and upper body. Another unidentified individual appears to restrain his legs.

Last November the Crown requested restorative justice — a diversion program based on Indigenous justice principles that typically resolves criminal charges outside of court. The Department of Justice's website says it "emphasizes healing in persons harmed," and "the meaningful accountability of persons responsible for causing harm."

On Monday in Campbellton provincial court, Caron's lawyer Renée Roy declined Crown attorney Karen Lee's offer to participate in the restorative justice program, Radio-Canada reports.

Roy said his client was pleading not guilty and he was ready to go to trial.

According to New Brunswick's guidelines on restorative justice, it can only be sought "if the offender accepts responsibility for the offence."

WATCH | Video posted to social media shows RCMP officer striking man: 

The trial could take between four and five days.

The trial cannot be chaired by Judge Joanne Durette due to a conflict of interest, Radio-Canada reports.

Another hearing will be held on Jan. 25 to find a judge and determine a trial date, since there is no longer a permanent judge in Campbellton.