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Fines, jail follow out-of-control party

Dawn Ostrem
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 19/01) - Was it a party that got out of control or did police overstep their bounds?

That was the question facing Territorial Court Judge Michel Bourassa last week. He chose to believe the former as he heard the case facing four young adults charged with mischief, obstruction, and in one case assaulting a police officer. Charges stemmed from an Aug. 15 drinking party at the Chateau Nova.

When the trial ended Dec. 13, the two women and two men were convicted of those charges and sentenced to fines and, for one person, two months in jail.

Defence lawyers tried to point the finger for the fracas directly at police.

"The police lost control of the situation and were using authority they did not have," said defence lawyer James Brydon.

Two of the three RCMP constables who attended the call testified at the trial.

"To be perfectly blunt, the police could not even keep their own stories straight," said Brydon.

Judge Bourassa cut him off.

"This makes great script Mr. Brydon but we are soaring into speculation," he interjected.

Testimony from the four -- Rosie Dodman, Kevin Langan, Wade Sutherland and Krysta Thiem -- and the two constables contained some discrepancies.

In the end, Bourassa accepted the bulk of police evidence.

"Those inconsistencies, in my opinion, are not manufactured," he said.

The defence raised questions about the police going into the hotel room without a warrant or just cause, and whether Dodman jumped on the backs of police officers and had to be dragged off by another, whom she then bit on the arm.

"We are expected to believe that she leapt on the backs of two people like a rodeo rider?" asked Brydon.

The two male constables who were arresting Sutherland did not remember Dodman doing so. A female constable said she witnessed it and pulled Dodman to the ground.

Langan was arrested when he began arguing with the police over whether they had jurisdiction to be there. He was intoxicated and pushed a police officer. Langan suffered a separated shoulder when he was wrestled to the ground by police.

Sutherland was arrested when he said he witnessed a police officer push his friend's head to the ground with his foot. He approached them angrily, was pepper sprayed, then cuffed.

Thiem was arrested after she told police they had no right to behave that way and refused to leave.

"It seems this room was full of legal experts bound to act on their misunderstanding of the law," Bourassa said.

For the record

- Rosie Dodman, 18, was convicted of mischief ($425 fine), obstruction (one day in jail) and assault (one day in jail and a $800 fine).

- Wade Sutherland, 24, was convicted of mischief ($425 fine) and obstruction (60 days in jail).

- Kevin Langan, 22, was convicted of mischief ($425 fine) and obstruction ($800 fine and one day in jail).

- Krysta Thiem, 20, was convicted of mischief ($425 fine).