A judge found a woman who was charged with assaulting a South Okanagan police officer not guilty, and accepted that some of her injuries sustained after a traffic stop were caused by the officer.
“I feel that justice has been served,” Fiona Munro said wiping away tears outside the courthouse after the decision Wednesday in Penticton Provincial Court. “I’m just glad because I don’t want this to happen to anybody else and I’m so happy this is over now.”
Munro was stopped by Osoyoos Const. Ian Patrick MacNeil shortly before 2 a.m. on Sept. 28, 2013.
MacNeil testified during the trial held in July that Munro resisted arrest and began to “elbow and donkey kick” the officer while he attempted to arrest her.
Munro said that when she realized it was Const. MacNeil pulling her over, she requested another officer to be called. Cpl. Jason Bayda was called to the scene, not at the request of Munro, but because, as MacNeil testified, she was asking for a search warrant to enter her vehicle.
Munro testified that MacNeil dragged her from her vehicle, forced her head on the hood of the car and banged her head on the hood three times while he was forcibly detaining her.
Judge Roy Dickey, who gave the decision via video from Kamloops, said it was clear from the evidence that Munro mistrusted MacNeil due to a number of circumstances “that occurred between her and Constable MacNeil or the constable’s partner Constable (Amit) Goyal.”
“She admitted to having a strong dislike of Constable Goyal and didn’t feel that Constable MacNeil was trustworthy or fair.”
Const. Goyal is currently suspended with pay and facing a Code of Conduct hearing for allegations of misconduct. The hearing has been scheduled and cancelled twice and currently does not appear on the schedule of hearings in Vancouver.
Judge Dickey did not accept some of the allegations put forward by Munro, including that she was dragged by the officer from her vehicle by her ankles.
“This simply makes no sense. For the officer to do this he would have had to place himself at significant risk with Ms. Munro. I do not believe this occurred.”
Munro said she suffered a moderate-to-severe concussion, bruises to the face and that her jeans were ripped on the front and the back after the incident.
“I do believe that much more occurred here than is acknowledged by the officer. I say this because of the injuries to Ms. Munro,” Dickey said.
Photos were taken of the injuries that Munro suffered when she attended the hospital the next day depicting bruising to her wrists, neck and arms, black eyes and lacerations to her shin bone.
A retired pilot for Air Canada testified on behalf of Munro at trial. He observed, an undetermined amount of days after the incident, that Munro was severely bruised and that her forehead was black and blue as well as her eyes. Munro’s mother, also named Fiona Munro, observed the ripped jeans and dirty shirt on Munro.
Munro tried to obtain the camera from the police car after the incident, which was confirmed by Cpl. Bayda.
“Unfortunately there was no camera in this car,” Dickey said.
“I realize that in any physical altercation things happen quickly and injuries can occur without full recollection sometimes,” Dickey said.
“I find the extent of the bruising and facial injuries to Ms. Munro is somewhat consistent with the evidence of Ms. Munro.”
“Although I have great difficulty with some of the evidence of Ms. Munro. I find her evidence does raise some reasonable doubt with the obstruction and the assault,” Dickey said.
A visibly emotional Munro expressed relief at the reading of the verdict, shedding tears.
“I was glad that he (Judge Dickey) could see the truth in it,” Munro said. “I’m so happy.”
“This has helped quite a bit. I think they are going to be a lot more careful now in how they deal with people. You can’t just do that,” Munro said.