OPP officer charged with perjury, obstruction of justice

Police brutality is the wanton use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer. Widespread police brutality exists in many countries, even those that prosecute it. It is one of several forms of police misconduct, which include: false arrest, intimidation, racial profiling, political repression, surveillance abuse, sexual abuse and police corruption.

OPP officer charged with perjury, obstruction of justice

Postby Thomas » Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:42 am

Officer top ticket writer in Grey County, court hears

OWEN SOUND - The OPP officer charged with perjury, obstruction of justice and breach of trust concerning a traffic stop which went to trial was the force’s top ticket writer in Grey County at the time — earning him an “over-the-top” reputation among locals, court heard Wednesday.

It was the second day of OPP Const. Rick Sadler’s trial in the Superior Court of Justice. The Crown closed its case and Sadler began testifying late in the day.

Sadler, 42, of Markdale, faces charges related to a provincial offences trial Jan. 24, 2011 in Owen Sound. The charges allege Sadler testified he took an incriminating statement from a woman when he didn’t. Court has heard Const. John Hurley took the statement that night at a spot check.

Debra Lynne Ferguson, 51, of Grand Valley was acquitted at trial in provincial offences court on five charges Sadler laid June 9, 2010 in Dundalk.
In February however, Ferguson was sentenced to 90 days in jail for committing perjury at her trial by presenting a bogus alibi. She claimed in court she was in hospital June 9, 2010, the night police charged her, which led to her acquittal.

Sadler testified Wednesday that as a member of the High Enforcement Action Team he laid some 900 charges in 2009 and more than 800 in 2010. HEAT mostly focussed on traffic violations and drinking and driving during peak traffic times. “In 2009-10, there was nobody else close to those numbers in Grey County,” Sadler said.

An officer on general patrol would issue 100 tickets per year and 200 would be “exceptional” because they respond to other calls too, said Sadler, who was based in Markdale. HEAT includes three officers who regularly target traffic and three on the Emergency Response Team, whose duties involve more than traffic.

Given his ticket volume, Sadler testified, he carried a lot more cases headed for court and possibly to trial, keeping him busy with paperwork. Some days he attended court for “multiple trials” and he was in court “probably close to once a week.”

Grey County OPP Sgt. Don FitzGerald, Sadler’s HEAT supervisor for the last two years Sadler worked, said Sadler’s proficiency at writing tickets, “annoyed” some in the local community who felt he was “over-the-top.” There may be 18 things discovered wrong during a traffic stop and an officer has the discretion to issue one ticket or 18, FitzGerald said. “They (community members) felt that he was a little bit excessive in the issuing of provincial offences notices during these stops.”

“Rick’s a very efficient and proficient officer and when he stopped vehicles, often there was more than one thing wrong,” FitzGerald said, adding Sadler would “at times write more than one provincial offences notice” per stop.

He spoken to Sadler about it a couple of times and it was left up to the officer how to do his job. FitzGerald said Sadler is one of the “very, very few people that have a consistent, driving, professional work ethic.”

Teresa Green, a former Markdale OPP detachment administrative assistant, testified Wednesday she was responsible for typing paperwork related to police investigations at the detachment at the time of the Ferguson stop. When defence lawyer Robert Warren suggested to her Sadler’s caseload was five, six or seven times the volume of any other officer, she said: “That would not surprise me. That sounds accurate.”

After Ferguson’s provincial offences trial, assistant Crown attorney Andrew Shatto, who prosecuted the case, grew concerned about Sadler’s testimony and his comments just before trial, Shatto testified Tuesday. He notified his superior, who contacted Sadler’s detachment commander.

Bob Mahlberg, Grey County OPP’s detachment commander until he retired in April, testified Wednesday he recognized Sadler’s handwriting and knew he hadn’t recorded Ferguson’s statement.
He called a meeting with Sadler and included FitzGerald. Mahlberg read parts of the trial transcript to Sadler, including parts of a voir dire or hearing during the trial on whether to accept the statement of the accused into evidence.

“I asked questions,” the transcript showed Sadler testified in the voir dire. “I recorded them on the statement verbatim.” It also showed Sadler testified he took the statement down in his own handwriting.

But in the meeting with Mahlberg, Sadler admitted he had not written the statement but still maintained he considered the statement, in Hurley’s handwriting, was really his own, Mahlberg testified. Sadler’s explanation was that he sat in the back seat of his cruiser with Ferguson and asked questions while Hurley wrote down the answers, Mahlberg said.

Hurley testified Tuesday he didn’t recall Sadler asking any questions, though he did advise him what to ask. Hurley testified the statement he took was based on questions he, Hurley, asked. He also testified Sadler was seated in the front of the cruiser.

Mahlberg testified he found it “remarkable” an officer whom he believed misled the court during a trial didn’t appear to understand how serious it was and how it could affect his policing career. “I was a little taken aback by that. He just didn’t seem to get it. That was one of my biggest concerns.”

FitzGerald said Sadler looked, upon receiving news of the concerns about his testimony, “like a deer in the headlights,” “surprised” and contrary to Mahlberg’s view, “Rick was very concerned.”
After hearing Sadler’s story, Mahlberg testified, he believed him to a point but wanted to investigate more. However, after speaking with Hurley later that day, he called in the OPP professional standards office for an investigation and assigned Sadler to administrative duties.

Sadler testified he has now been suspended from all work for 13 months. An OPP spokesman has said Sadler was suspended with pay because “the Police Services Act permits suspension without pay only if he’s convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment.”


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