A judge has released video that shows a police officer threatening to taser two suspects, one in the neck, the other in the genitals. Constable Christopher Hominuk has pleaded guilty to one count of threatening bodily harm. (Feb, 8, 2011)
Video: Officer threatens taser use
Peter Small Courts Bureau
Videos showing a Toronto cop threatening to Taser two suspects demonstrate the need to record virtually all police interactions with the public, a prominent lawyer says.
“It shows the tremendous value of insisting that police-citizen encounters, and especially police-detainee encounters, are video and audio recorded,” Paul Burstein, president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, said Tuesday.
There is no reason to believe police mistreatment of suspects is rampant, he added.
“Whether it’s rampant or rare … The only way to guard against it is to ensure that these encounters are video and audio recorded.”
This week, a Provincial Court Justice Hugh Fraser released the videos of Const. Christopher Hominuk, 37, threatening to Taser two handcuffed prisoners in two separate police cruisers unless they helped him catch a suspect.
Christopher Hominuk was charged with two counts of threatening bodily harm, two counts of assault with a weapon and one of assault.
On Jan. 31, he pleaded guilty to just one count of threatening bodily harm.
He begins a sentencing hearing on June 14. He remains suspended from the force with pay.
The incidents occurred after police took three men into custody on May 24, 2010, in west Toronto for allegedly breaking into tractor-trailers, according to an agreed statement of facts at Hominuk’s guilty plea.
A fourth suspect apparently escaped.
Robert James Bolgan, 47, was handcuffed and placed in the rear of a police car.
The then acting-Sgt. Hominuk opened the door and pushed his Taser into Bolgan’s genital area, hit him on the left side of his forehead and forced him to lie down on the seat, court heard.
He demanded who the fourth man was, and Bolgan said he didn’t know.
Hominuk replied: “I’ll f---ing Taser you. If you are lying to me, when I get back to the station, I’m Tasering you in the f---ing n-ts.”
A second suspect, Roger William Bradshaw, 39, was handcuffed and lying in the rear of another police car, court heard.
Hominuk told the officer in charge of Bradshaw to leave and he opened the rear door. He pressed the Taser to Bradshaw’s neck area and demanded to know who the fourth man was. Bradshaw said he didn’t know.
“If I find out you’re lying, I’m going to f----g Taser you in the n-ts,” Hominuk said.
Both encounters were videotaped by in-cruiser cameras.
Police spokesperson Mark Pugash called the incidents “disgraceful” and “completely unacceptable.”
Cameras are installed in most police cruisers carrying prisoners and will be in all of them by the end of July, he said.
Pugash said not only do in-cruiser cameras enhance officer safety but they provide the best possible evidence when there are disputes between citizens and cops, he said.
“It’s not one person’s word against another,” he explained.
Pugash pointed out that in the Hominuk case neither prisoner complained. Another officer reviewing the videos for another matter saw the incidents and called in the force’s professional standards branch, he said.
Professional standards put Hominuk before the courts, Pugash said.
Pugash would not speculate on what sort of police disciplinary process Hominuk will face, but said it cannot take place until he is sentenced.