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Hamilton police officer who assaulted Indigenous man in ‘disturbing’ act to be demoted for 1 year

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

A Hamilton police officer will stay on the force after he violently assaulted an Indigenous man, kicking him in the head during his arrest. 

Brian Wren will be demoted in rank from first to second-class constable for one year and then will be reinstated to his current position, said Greg Walton, a retired Ontario Provincial Police Officer who chaired Wren’s disciplinary hearing last week. As a result, Wren will earn around $14,000 less per year. 

Walton’s decision was released Monday. 

“I do not find Constable Wren has nullified his usefulness to the Hamilton Police Service,” Walton said. “I find the argument that he is a strong candidate for rehabilitation compelling.” 

He also called Wren’s behaviour during the assault “disturbing.” 

Wren pleaded guilty to assaulting Patrick Tomchuk last year and was sentenced to 18 months of probation. 

Man outside courthouse
Patrick Tomchuk was assaulted by Hamilton police officer Brian Wren in May 2022. He attended Wren’s sentencing hearing at the John Sopinka Courthouse in 2023. (Samantha Beatite/CBC)

Tomchuk was already laying on the ground “unresisting and possibly unconscious,” with several other officers involved, when Wren kicked him in the head and face multiple times, said Ontario Court Justice Bruce Puglsey during Wren’s sentencing. Crown attorney Richard Garwood-Jones then described Wren’s actions as “grotesque violence.”

Tomchuk previously said he felt “disgusted” Wren wouldn’t face jail time. 

In response to the assault, the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre developed recommendations to help address the “harm done by law enforcement agencies” against Indigenous peoples, such as creating an Indigenous liaison role and consultant position within the police force.

The organization also said there was a need for an Indigenous-specific seat on the police services board and improvements to Indigenous training for police. They also recommended body cameras for officers, which the police service is looking at now, and urged police to charge Wren with a hate crime.  

“I just want to have it where this police officer doesn’t do it anymore,” Tomchuck’s mother Olga told reporters in August 2022.

Police requested Wren be terminated

At the police disciplinary hearing, Wren apologized. 

“My behaviour was not acceptable and I regret my actions wholeheartedly,” he said.

Wren’s lawyer K.C. Wysynski, from Hamilton police’s union, had requested he be docked pay as a consequence, noting he’d apologized numerous time, had an otherwise discipline-free record and received 25 letters of support from his community. 

Hamilton Police Service’s Jessica Barrow had requested his termination due to the seriousness of his misconduct. She highlighted that Wren struck Tomchuk roughly 15 times and kicked him so hard Wren broke a toe. 

In his decision, Walton said that with the exception of this “isolated incident,” Wren is a “credit to his community” and police and should continue working as an officer.

“Constable Wren possesses the requisite characteristics to be successful as a police officer as has been well documented throughout his career and also by his post-offence conduct,” Walton said.

“I expect him to continue to demonstrate sound moral character moving forward.”

This article is from from cbc.ca (CBC NEWS CANADA)

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