An Osoyoos woman charged with assaulting a police officer claims she was the one assaulted during a traffic stop.
Fiona Munro was stopped shortly before 2 a.m. on Sept. 28, 2014 by Osoyoos Const. Ian Patrick MacNeil. MacNeil testified at the Penticton courthouse on Tuesday during the trial that he saw a Camaro accelerate excessively around a corner and make a turn without signalling. Later that evening he saw the vehicle again and activated his lights on his police cruiser. MacNeil said the vehicle accelerated and attempted a u-turn in a dead end where he was able to block the vehicle in.
He said Munro refused to provide identification and told the officer he had no reason to pull her over. MacNeil said Munro also questioned whether or not he was a legitimate police officer, and said she didn’t trust the police. After refusing to provide identification three times, MacNeil said he told Munro she was being detained for an impaired driving investigation. He then threatened to remove her from the vehicle if she didn’t exit herself, and she claimed the vehicle was her private residence which requires a warrant to search.
MacNeil said he’s encountered members of Munro’s family in the past who have expressed Freeman of the Land ideologies. Because of his experience of having questionable legal disputes with her family, MacNeil decided to call his supervising office Cpl. Jason Bayda to bear witness.
Before Bayda’s arrival around 2:15 a.m., MacNeil said he had to forcefully remove her from the car when she would not step out as instructed.
Munro’s lawyer Michael Welsh asked MacNeil if it was true that he pulled Munro out of her car by her ankles, as a way of countering the grip she had on her steering wheel. MacNeil said that is incorrect and the RCMP are not trained to do that.
MacNeil said Munro grabbed her purse and exited her car, vocally announcing her intentions to leave. MacNeil restrained her by grabbing her right arm. Shortly thereafter, he alleges Munro was against the hood of the police cruiser and her back against MacNeil’s chest. He said she used her right arm, which was still loose, to swing behind her head and hit him in the right ear. He alleged she then used a similar striking motion with her right elbow to hit him.
Welsh asked if MacNeil had struck Munro in the head at all during the altercation. MacNeil said he didn’t directly hit her head, though it’s possible it came in contact with the hood of the police cruiser while he was attempting to restrain her.
MacNeil said Munro was also repeatedly shouting racial slurs against his Chinese heritage, and she referenced another member of the Osoyoos RCMP who has been suspended without pay. That officer, Const. Amit Goyal, is known to be friends with MacNeil, and Welsh said MacNeil’s statements may not be reliable because of their relationship as friends.
But “A simple association doesn’t equate,” said Crown prosecutor Frank Caputo.
Judge Roy Dickey said the relationship seems to have potential for relevance and allowed limited questioning of Goyal’s story.
MacNeil also said Munro was “donkey kicking” him in the shins. Munro, who was sitting in the gallery at the courthouse, could be heard whispering “such a liar” before beginning to cry.
Once MacNeil had her restrained, he alleged she resisted the walk to the back of the police cruiser, but said no extreme effort was needed to deliver her. He claims she was shouting a lot, and recalled her saying “feels like I’m being raped,” “hands off,” and “don’t touch me.”
MacNeil said he could smell liquor in the back of the cop car once Munro had been placed in it. He said her eyes seemed glassy and tired, and her speech was tired and lazy. MacNeil said he’s had sober encounters with Munro in the past and could tell a difference.
He issued a breath sample demand and she swore at him and said “call my lawyer. You’re not getting anything.” MacNeil said she remained committed to her statement and refused the breathalyzer.
Defence counsel asked Bayda if her behaviour could be explained by the assault rather than being intoxicated.
“Yeah, I suppose, but also from substance,” he responded.
By the time Bayda had arrived, Munro was in the back of the police cruiser, and he observed her free hands banging against the windows. He testified he wasn’t sure how that happened as MacNeil told him she’d been handcuffed.
MacNeil, who testified after Bayda, said that Munro managed to slip one handcuff off her right wrist while in the back of the police car.
Evidence was submitted by the defence of photos of Munro that were taken at a hospital. Those showed some bruising on the woman’s collarbone, wrists, head and ankles.
MacNeil testified that when she slipped out the handcuffs it may have led to bruising on Munro’s wrist.
Bayda testified that he noticed a red mark and warming on MacNeil’s ear – where he claims to have been struck – and the mark seemed to be consistent with a strike. Bayda said he questioned Munro, to which she admitted hitting MacNeil in the ear, but only after he slammed her head against a car.
Bayda said he didn’t observe any marks on Munro’s head that was consistent with her claim, although he testified he didn’t take a very close look.
Munro was released on the roadside after signing a promise to appear, though she signed her name “without prejudice” – an apparent Freeman of the Land reference.
Crown counsel told the Western News that MacNeil would be the last witness called to the stand. Munro is expected back in court on July 20 to fix a date to continue the trial.