A Kelowna Mountie on trial for assaulting a 61-year-old man during the bar flush last summer says he was defending his weapon from prying hands, a threat that requires neutralizing “with 100 per cent speed and aggression.”
Const. Grant Jacobson offered that testimony in his own defence Tuesday, as the second day of his assault trial got underway.
He told the court there is nothing more serious than losing control of one’s firearm, and while his gun was well holstered in the early hours of June 28, 2014, he had no way to know the intention or ability of his alleged victim, John Patrick McCormick.
“You don’t have time to stop and make a plan—it’s reaction,” he said, explaining his RCMP training taught him that one of the most effective modes of defence was to control the threat by bringing the person to the ground.
Video footage of the night in question shows that Jacobson did just that, and while McCormick was on the ground on the patio of Rose’s pub, he continued to strike him three times in the midsection.
The violence of that interaction, he claimed, doesn’t define his style of policing or how his earlier interactions with McCormick played out.
Having worked as everything from a bouncer to a gas station attendant before becoming an RCMP officer in 2007, Jacobson told the court he’s well versed in what it takes to communicate with drunk and/or hostile people—characteristics he claims McCormick exhibited.
“I know it takes patience, I’m well practiced at it,” he said, stressing that he didn’t needlessly exchange profane barbs with McCormick, who testified to that effect during Day 1 of the trial.
Instead he claimed that he first interacted with McCormick in a cordial fashion just over an hour before their melee.
Jacobson testified that he approached the bouncer on duty at the patio of Rose’s Pub that night, to learn about the issues at play that night, and McCormick sidled up to them.
McCormick asked Jacobson to come in and have a pint with him, and he declined the offer.
“I told him I couldn’t drink, I was on duty,” he said. “He seemed perturbed that I was dismissing him. I found it curious that someone asked to have a beer with them while I was on duty.”
Fast forward an hour, and the two were at odds again.
McCormick approached Jacobson, as can be seen on video footage, then at some point his arms went into the air, in the direction of McCormick.
The police officer flipped him over, and struck him. Another officer then went to his side, and the two removed McCormick from the patio.
Const. Darcy Lawson was the other officer seen on the footage.
He testified that he couldn’t hear what happened between the two men, but he did see what appeared to be McCormick “resisting arrest.”
Then, when McCormick’s hands rose and moved toward Jacobson’s face, the conflict ramped up and he went to his fellow police officer’s side.
“Jacobson grabs him, does a twist or a toss, and does three strikes to the mid-section,” he said.
Lawson testified that he didn’t see McCormick reach for Jacobson’s gun, however, he did see a lot of errant behaviour once he was cuffed.
“He didn’t seem to like police,” he said. “He was very profane with us. Constantly swearing at us, raising his voice and yelling at us.”
Jacobson, on the other hand, was commended for continually exhibiting patience.
“He stays calm in stressful situations,” Lawson said. “He’s kind and patient with all the public… a lot of the time we deal with drunk belligerent people and he’s always calm with them.”
Jacobson was characterized in a similar fashion by another officer on duty that night.
Const. Brent Edwards, who transported McCormick from Rose’s to the police station, said Jacobson is a “good police officer.”
In the hallway outside the courtroom where the trial was playing out, McCormick talked about the injuries he suffered and his frustration with the way he was being depicted in the courtroom.
He has been described as a regular at Rose’s pub, and has had some run-ins with security in the past. He’s even been banned, although that’s not currently his status.
He has logged prior convictions in Alberta, which include two assaults, a theft and arson from a time he burned down his own house in Edmonton.
Photographic evidence from the night of the matter at hand, shows that he suffered some minor scrapes to his cheek, his back, hand and above his eye.
He never racked up criminal charges from this event. Instead, Jacobson gave him tickets for being intoxicated in public and obstructing a police officer.
The trial continues.