Friday, June 8, 2012

Cop flashes badge, feigns illness during drunk driving arrest, trial hears


Posted 30 minutes ago

Flashing a badge didn’t find favour with provincial police the night they arrested an off-duty North Bay Police Service officer accused of driving drunk, court heard.

Const. Stephen Taylor, 36, pleaded not guilty at the start of his trial Thursday to impaired driving and refusing a demand to give a breath sample to determine how much alcohol he might have had in his system when OPP arrested him a year ago.

Taylor flashed his police badge after he was stopped by OPP, tried to persuade two veteran provincial officers not to arrest him, demanded to be driven home and didn’t co-operate with police or medical staff when he appeared to “feign” illness at the OPP detachment, the trial heard.

North Bay Police Service confirmed Taylor remains on administrative duties.

Ontario’s Police Services Act allows officers facing criminal charges to continue to collect their salary.

Taylor made the so-called Sunshine list for 2011 by collecting a public sector salary of more than $100,000.

The trial is scheduled to continue Aug. 2.

OPP Const. Mark Shannon took the stand for most of the day Thursday. Shannon testified he was in an unmarked cruiser to patrol the Highway 11/17 bypass on June 30 when he saw a vehicle stopped at 12:03 a.m. on O’Brien Street at the bypass with an expired licence plate validation sticker.

Shannon watched the driver enter the intersection on a green light, hesitate for 30 seconds for no reason, take a wide left turn into the southbound highway’s outside lane instead of the inside lane and travel 40 kilometres per hour in a posted 80 km/h zone for about 300 metres.

Shannon said he thought the driver might be on a cellphone and continued to follow. He observed the driver cross the centre line three times, enter the left turning lane where the highway meets Cassells Street and Trout Lake Road and continue south on the bypass, weaving in the lane.

Shannon pulled over the vehicle and testified the driver displayed the “distinct” North Bay Police Service silver badge

“He responds to me, ‘I’m a cop.’ I don’t recognize him. I’ve never met him before,” Shannon testified.

Shannon identified the driver by a licence, and testified he smelled alcohol on Taylor’s breath, saw glassy eyes as if Taylor was ready to cry and noticed he was unsteady on his feet.

Shannon testified he told Taylor there were reasonable grounds to believe he was impaired, arrested him and advised him about his right to contact a lawyer.

Taylor became stern and repeated a couple of times he was a cop, Shannon said.

“Sternly he says, ‘Take me home, sir.’ And then he asks where we are going,” Shannon said, adding he told Taylor he was being taken to the OPP detachment.

“He replied, ‘You’re kidding, eh?’ I did not reply,” Shannon said, adding he found a beer cap in Taylor’s pocket during a search.

Defence counsel Calvin Barry told Ontario Court Justice Malcolm McLeod of Sudbury that Shannon’s credibility will be challenged. Barry said the 28-year OPP veteran — the last 14 of those years in the Highway Safety Division — showed bias against police when he followed and stopped Taylor that night.

OPP Const. Joanne Matthews testified Taylor reminded her at the detachment he had perviously helped her during a difficult impaired driving arrest on Highway 63 involving several other people in the vehicle.

“Joanne, I came and saved you that night,” she said of his comment to her at the detachment where he was taken to give a breath sample.

Matthews testified she told Taylor he was in a bad situation and that she couldn’t help him.

Court heard Taylor dropped to the floor at the detachment, moaning with his hands clutched to his chest.

Paramedics testified they smelled alcohol on him. They said Taylor’s vital signs were normal, but he closed his eyes and wouldn’t talk to them.

“He was conscious. He wasn’t speaking to us,” said paramedic Kristin Furino.

Taylor failed three tests, including a painful rub on the breastbone that truly unconscious people don’t notice, court heard.

Paramedics said Taylor responded immediately.

“I guess he feigned unconsciousness,” said paramedic Connie Robson.

At the North Bay Regional Health Centre, police observed Taylor remain calm and quiet when he was alone, and moan and scream when medical staff entered the room, the trial heard.

Court heard Taylor walked on his own power, with assistance from police, to a room at the hospital where OPP set up an Intoxilyzer to take a breath sample, but he passed out again and woke up when he was led away from the machine.

He was discharged from the hospital after 3 a.m. and was brought back to a cell at the OPP detachment.

“We don’t release people who are extremely intoxicated until they sober up,” Shannon said.