A Kamloops Mountie has been given a conditional discharge for an assault that occurred when he lifted a handcuffed homeless man by the throat so he could force him to stand.
Const. Joedy Todd Henderson pleaded guilty to the August 2017 incident, which began with a city bylaw officer attempting to ticket the victim for an unauthorized temporary shelter space.
“The assault occurred on a vulnerable witness who was in handcuffs at the time of the assault and was a marginalized person in this community,” said Kamloops Provincial Court Judge Roy Dickey.
“[Henderson’s] actions have negatively affected the public’s perception of police officers.”
‘Grabbed’ by the throat
In sentencing the 45-year-old, Dickey said Henderson had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder in the years leading up to the assault.
“He believes he was worn down at the time of this incident,” Dickey said.
A bylaw officer called police for backup after the victim — Sean Redenbach — refused to accept a ticket. But the “Code 3” call mistakenly gave a higher level of urgency and danger than the situation warranted.
A number of officers attended and Redenbach was placed in handcuffs “for safety purposes.” He was told to sit down. Dickey said he was calm when Henderson arrived 15 minutes later.
The bylaw officer and Henderson believed a photo of Redenbach was needed in order to ticket him. The judge said they were mistaken.
Redenbach — who was still sitting — tried to use his knees to shield his face.
“Const. Henderson grabbed Mr. Redenbach by the throat and raised him to his feet,” Dickey said.
“He then attempted to control his head so a photo could be taken. Const. Henderson admits that he had no right to force Mr. Redenbach to have his photo taken.”
The judge said Redenbach then tried to pull away from Henderson, who “delivered knee strikes” to the victim’s body.
Struggling with PTSD
The Crown had asked for a suspended sentence, which would have left Henderson with a conviction on his record, but the defence argued that the public interest would be best served with a conditional discharge.
Henderson suffers from PTSD, which Dickey said he attributes to a 2010 incident in which a suspect tried to run him down with a vehicle and the officer was forced to fire his weapon.
“He receives a disability pension for this disorder and continues to suffer from symptoms of the disorder and did so at the time of this offence,” the judge said.
Henderson has been an RCMP officer for 16 years and has an otherwise spotless record.
He was commended for a previous incident in which he and another officer managed to calm down a man who was brandishing a hatchet in the middle of Kamloops.
The judge said the RCMP docked Henderson 21 days pay after a code of conduct disciplinary hearing. He was also placed on stress leave for nearly nine months, returning to traffic services last summer.
Dickey said Henderson appears genuinely remorseful and has been attending counselling for PTSD.
The conditional discharge means that after a year’s probation, no conviction will be entered on the Mountie’s criminal record. Dickey also ordered him to perform 30 hours of community service with a local business organization.