Update: see previous posts – December 14, 2012 Toronto Parking Enforcement Officer Guilty of Assaulting Motorist in Police Custody, August 11, 2011 Toronto Police Officers Charged with Beating Man in Custody, April 30, 2011 Toronto Police Parking Enforcement Officer Charged with Assaulting Man in Police Custody
A veteran parking enforcement officer who unsuccessfully used a “sleepwalker’s defence” to explain why he punched a suspect in police custody was sentenced Friday to 100 hours of community service in Old City Hall Court.
“I have determined that this is an exceptional case,” Justice Peter Harris said.
The judge noted that Devon Henry, 43, has already been fired for the attack at 14 Division on April 24, 2011, and that Keith Ryan, the man he punched twice, didn’t want him sent to jail.
Ryan was a suspect in an attack earlier that evening on Henry, who suffered a concussion when knocked face-first onto the ground after issuing a parking ticket near Ossington Ave. and Queen St. W.
The judge did sentence Henry, who had a good work record and no previous criminal record, to 100 hours of community service over the next 18 months.
Harris said he didn’t want to destroy Henry’s future job prospects and noted that he had glowing letters of reference from co-workers and community and church members.
“He’s known to be a kind and generous and nonviolent person,” Harris said.
The judge also said that Henry was taken to the room in the 14 Division police station where Ryan was held by officers immediately before the attack.
“He took up a spontaneous invitation to get even, coming from colleagues higher up in the food chain,” Harris said.
“I am prepared to understand the human emotions involved,” Harris said. “How many of us would resist being drawn into this scenario.”
The judge said an immediate investigation of the division should be considered to examine the culture that made such an attack possible.
“I call it an invitation extended by these officers,” Harris said. “… More than two officers were complicit.”
Defence lawyer David Butt argued for an absolute discharge while Assistant Crown attorney Peter Scrutton suggested a “short, sharp jail sentence” or a suspended sentence with probation.
The discharge leaves Henry with no criminal record, if he completes the community service.
The judge said he accepted comments from Staff Sgt. Cameron Durham, who told court that Henry was liked by superior officers and co-workers and scored well on his annual performance reviews before the incident.
“He was a good employee, notwithstanding these circumstances,” Durham told court.
Durham also testified that assaults and threats against parking enforcement officers are not unusual.
“Unfortunately, it seems to be a common occurrence,” Durham said, noting he has already had to deal with one this week.
The judge also said he was satisfied that Henry didn’t seriously injure Ryan when he struck him twice.
Ryan, who was treated for facial injuries, still faces charges for assaulting a police officer. No date has been set for his trial.
Toronto Police Constable Paul Ramos and Toronto Police Constable Manpreet Kharbar each face a charge of assault causing bodily harm on Ryan. Their trials begin in July.