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Man found guilty of assaulting and threatening RCMP, other offences

Terrence McEachern
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Judge Christine Gagnon ruled Friday that RCMP officers were justified and performing their lawful duty when they punched and kicked an offender in the face and ribs while the man resisted arrest last September.

NNSL photo/graphic

Lyle Omilgoituk received 15 months in jail for several offences Friday. This photo was taken at the North Slave Correctional Centre a couple of days after his Sept. 5, 2010 arrest. Judge Christine Gagnon ruled the level of force used by the RCMP was "necessary" and "not excessive."

Gagnon said the injuries Lyle Richard Omilgoituk, 33, received from police officers were "a consequence of (his) own actions" for resisting arrest and that the officers "used a level of force that was necessary to subdue Mr. Omilgoituk" and was "not excessive."

She also ruled the police were justified in entering Omilgoituk's apartment without a warrant.

Gagnon sentenced Omilgoituk to 21 months in jail minus six months credit for time served while he awaited the outcome of his trial.

Earlier in the day, Gagnon found him guilty of assaulting two police officers; assaulting a woman in his apartment; threatening to kill the woman, her three sons and one of the officers; and for resisting arrest - all stemming from a series of events on Sept. 5, 2010.

The night began with Omilgoituk getting "jumped" by five or six men after leaving a downtown bar heavily intoxicated. Despite being outnumbered, Omilgoituk only suffered an injured ankle. He returned to his 900 Lanky Court apartment at around 11 p.m. where he pulled a woman's hair while accusing her and her oldest son of orchestrating the attack, said Gagnon.

After overhearing Omilgoituk tell her he "could crush her throat," "slice (her son's) face and watch him die," and "deal" with the woman's other two children, her son cracked Omilgoituk twice in the head with a 30 centimetre weightlifting bar, causing a deep gash on top of his forehead, said Gagnon.

The second set of offences occurred after the RCMP arrived at the residence at around 6 a.m. to support an ambulance called to assist Omilgoituk.

He pushed Cpl. Mark Caswell as he tried to arrest him and then grabbed Const. Kristy Costache's arm as she tried to handcuff him. He then threatened Costache and resisted Caswell, Costache, and three other officers - constables Warren Hydum, April Bell and Jonathan White - as they tried to arrest him, said Gagnon.

Caswell previously testified that he pepper sprayed a resisting Omilgoituk but this had no effect, so his "only option" was to punch Omilgoituk in the face "two to three times."

Then, with Hydum lying on the offender's back and punching him in the ribs three to four times, Omilgoituk tried to stand up, at which point Caswell "deployed two to three" kicks to his head.

As the officers were placing handcuffs on Omilgoituk, White pressed his hand against the side of Omilgoituk's head on the floor, causing a bruise to his left ear.

The offender suffered several other bruises to his face and head and a bloody nose from his encounter with the RCMP. Caswell testified he had to replace his boots because he couldn't clean the blood off them after kicking Omilgoituk.

"It's unfortunate Cpl. Caswell had to throw his boots away, but Mr. Omilgoituk wasn't able to throw his injuries away," said his lawyer Jay Bran.

Crown prosecutor Duane Praught looked surprised when he heard Bran say an appropriate sentence would be "time served." Instead, Praught requested a sentence of 27 to 28 months in jail for a man he described as "extremely violent and dangerous."

Praught cited Omilgoituk's criminal record consisting of 11 prior convictions for violent offences, including a 2006 conviction for two counts of assault causing bodily harm where he received three years and nine months in prison.

Bran wasn't able to convince Gagnon that the officers violated Omilgoituk's rights when they remained in the apartment without a warrant or Omilgoituk's consent after Omilgoituk signed a waiver refusing medical treatment. Gagnon said the officers had a duty to ensure everyone was safe, and that the woman consented to having the officers in the apartment.

Omilgoituk told the court he was "extremely sorry for everyone (he's) hurt" and for "scaring the family." He added if he "could go back in time and change everything, (he) would," although at one point during sentencing, he turned around and glared at the victim sitting in courtroom until she finally became upset and left.

Gagnon granted the Crown's additional sentencing request of a two-year probation order in which the offender is to have no contact with the victim or her family, a DNA order and a 10-year firearms ban.

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