Home Editor Picks Const. Goran Beric appears before Ottawa police disciplinary panel

Const. Goran Beric appears before Ottawa police disciplinary panel

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Const. Goran Beric appears before Ottawa police disciplinary panel

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Beric was found guilty of assault and assault with a weapon related to the same incident for stepping on a man’s neck and striking him in the head with his police-issued baton.

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Seven months after a judge found him guilty of assaulting a man in an Ottawa Community Housing complex, Const. Goran Beric made his first appearance before a police disciplinary panel Thursday to face internal charges of discreditable conduct and insubordination.

The Ottawa Police Service professional standards section, which is responsible for internal affairs and police discipline, formally charged Beric with three counts of discreditable conduct and two counts of insubordination related to the Aug. 4, 2021 incident.

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Beric was charged criminally with assault and assault with a weapon in the same incident for stepping on the man’s neck for two minutes and striking him in the head with his police-issued baton. He was found guilty in October and was handed a suspended sentence in January that spared the officer from serving jail time. He was ordered to serve 30 months’ probation and to perform 200 hours of community service.

The victim of the assault, Derrick Weyman, was in the midst of a mental health breakdown when he was found by police in a first-floor bathroom at the Bronson Avenue housing complex.

Weyman was bleeding profusely from cuts to his head and hands when police first encountered him and he was in an “extremely vulnerable” mental and physical state when he was assaulted by Beric, according to the ruling from Ontario Court Justice Janet O’Brien.

Beric was one of five officers who responded to the distress call that night and one of two officers who engaged physically with Weyman.

The altercation was captured on surveillance video as one officer was seen throwing Weyman to the floor while Beric struggled to handcuff him.

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Beric struck Weyman with his baton with three “jabs” to the head, in an area that was already bleeding, within a 30-second span as they grappled on the floor.

Beric then stepped on the prone man’s neck for two minutes and five seconds — a “reckless amount of time,” the judge said.

O’Brien found inconsistencies in the officer’s trial testimony and glaring omissions in his official notes reporting the incident, and the judge concluded Beric’s use of force went beyond the lawful range of reasonable and necessary.

The judge imposed an unconditional weapons ban for the first nine months of Beric’s sentence, granting an exception after that period, when Beric would be permitted to use weapons “during working hours if required by (his) employer and used only in a manner required by the employer.”

His defence lawyer at his criminal trial, Karin Stein, had asked the judge to grant a conditional discharge, saying a criminal conviction would almost certainly end the officer’s policing career.

O’Brien declined, saying a discharge would “send the wrong message (and) trivialize the offences.”

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Beric remains on paid suspension from the Ottawa Police Service while awaiting his disciplinary hearing.

He served in a reduced capacity after he was charged with criminal offences and was suspended in October following the judge’s guilty verdict. His employment status will be determined following the disciplinary hearing, according to Ottawa Police Association president Matthew Cox.

“Suspension and employment status is at the discretion of the police service. Now that the criminal matter is completed, the Professional Standards Unit will conduct an investigation and it is the OPS who will determine penalty for Const. Beric,” said Cox in a statement in January.

On Thursday, Cox confirmed that Beric is being represented at the disciplinary tribunal by OPA labour relations officer Mike Lamothe and the defence case is being “overseen” by OPA lawyer Pam Machado from the Machado Law firm, which specializes in policing and labour law.

Cox said the OPA is supporting a plan “to seek a penalty of demotion and not termination” for Beric and said the union “will ensure fairness in the process.”

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Jessica Barrow is the assigned prosecutor and retired Superintendent Morris Elbers is the presiding officer for the police disciplinary tribunal.

Beric was officially served notice on May 1 of the disciplinary charges, which originated from a chief’s complaint.

His first appearance on Thursday was a brief one, with the charges read into the record and Beric’s defence requesting disclosure from the prosecution. The matter was adjourned to a June 17 conference call, with the hearing to be scheduled at a later date.

Beric apologized and expressed his regret for the incident at the close of his criminal trial. The judge said she believed he was sincere when he said he has learned from the incident.

O’Brien also cited Beric’s previously “unblemished” record of 14 years as a police officer, with numerous commendations from the public and fellow officers.

ahelmer@postmedia.com

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