KAMLOOPS - A Kamloops RCMP officer has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in connection to an assault against a homeless man in handcuffs last summer.
Joedy Todd Henderson, born in 1973, was initially charged with assault causing bodily harm while on duty on Aug. 25, 2017. However, Henderson’s lawyer Neville McDougall and Crown counsel Andrew Vandersluys, worked out a guilty plea to the lesser charge of assault.
For the first time, the details of the incident were made public when it went before Kamloops Provincial Court Judge Roy Dickey today, Dec. 6.
On August 25, 2017, a Kamloops bylaw officer came across an unauthorized temporary shelter space at 1325 Columbia St. The bylaw officer confronted the complainant who was occupying the shelter and began to issue a ticket, said Vandersluys.
“He was asked to clean up… told he was going to get a ticket,” McDougall said, adding the complainant told the bylaw officer he could use the ticket to “wipe his ass” and began to walk away.
The bylaw officer called for police assistance. However, there was a miscommunication in what type of situation police were responding to, Vandersluys said. Police were told it was a “Code 3” situation, meaning this was a high-risk call when that was not the case, Henderson's lawyer said.
“(The bylaw officer) was not in physical danger, he just needed physical assistance,” McDougall said. “Things got miscommunicated to the (police) members.”
The first two constables who arrived on scene placed the complainant in handcuffs and told him to have a seat on the pavement. Henderson arrived at the scene 15 minutes later.
The complainant did not have a photo ID, which required the bylaw officer to take his photo for identification purposes to issue the ticket.
Vandersluys said Henderson recognized the complainant from previous encounters in the community. McDougall said this individual was belligerent and was a known prolific offender.
While the bylaw officer attempted to take a photo, the complainant raised his knees to his face to prevent the photo from being taken.
According to witnesses, Henderson grabbed the complainant by his throat and raised him to his feet. While doing this, the complainant tried to pull away from him.
Henderson then struck the victim on the side of his body with his knees and escorted him to his police truck, where he pushed the complainant’s head against the vehicle. Photographs of the complainant’s neck show bruises which were consistent of the placement of fingers.
“This was an assault on a vulnerable victim,” Vandersluys said. “(The complainant) was in handcuffs the entire time he was dealing with Const. Henderson.”
Henderson’s lawyer says his client did not lift the complainant by the neck, but by his shoulders instead and used his hands to hold up the complainant’s head for the photo.
“I fully take responsibility… I have been thinking about this incident every day,” Henderson said. “I wish I could take this back.”
McDougall says this behaviour was "completely out of character" for his client and "it's not likely to happen again".
Henderson was placed on administrative duties for three months before leaving for eight months on stress leave. He is currently working for the RCMP’s Traffic Services.
The complainant did not provide a victim impact statement.
Crown is asking for a suspended sentence including 12 months of probation, where Henderson must attend counselling programs and complete 40 hours of community service.
A sentencing date has not been set yet.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.