GEORGETOWN — A provincial court judge has ruled an RCMP officer was on a “fishing expedition” and turned into the “aggressor” two years ago when he was investigating a noise complaint and committed an assault on a teenager in Montague.
Const. Darren Doucette, a 12-year veteran of the police force, was found guilty of both assault and forcible confinement in a decision by Judge Nancy Orr that clearly shocked RCMP officers who attended the decision here Thursday.
He will be sentenced here April 5.
“Constable Doucette had no grounds to arrest (the accused) and grabbing him by the neck and pressing him against a police cruiser are ample grounds of assault,’’ said Judge Orr during her one-hour rendering.
She found the 37-year-old officer, who has been on administrative duties since being charged, guilty of both assault and the forcible confinement of Donovan Hans Fitzpatrick, who was 19 at the time, and not injured.
Doucette was responding to a noise complaint in a Montague apartment building on Nov. 4, 2010 with two other officers.
It was the same building where a drug surveillance was being undertaken the night before.
When he smelled marijuana in the hallway, Doucette knocked on a door and testified he heard voices saying the cops had arrived and clear out.
He pursued around the back of the building and apprehended three individuals and awaited the fourth, Fitzpatrick, who later laid a public complaint against the officer.
Court was told during the trial that Doucette put Fitzpatrick in the back of his cruiser while he attempted to question the others.
Fitzpatrick resisted and testified he was manhandled and pushed into the car and locked inside for about ten minutes.
“Mr. Fitzpatrick was deprived of his liberty,’’ said the judge. “Mr. Doucette went to deal with a noise complaint and had no authority...and was unjustifiable...in his actions in the case.”
In an interview with The Guardian, RCMP spokesman Sgt. Andrew Blackadar said it’s too early to say what the verdict will mean for Doucette’s career as an RCMP officer.
That’s because an administrative investigation was started under the RCMP Act, which is independent of the criminal investigation, he said.
“That is ongoing.”
Blackadar said the administrative investigation won’t be finished before sentencing on April 5.
“The results of the RCMP Act investigation will determine what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken against Const. Doucette,” he said.
Orr’s sentence will guide somewhat the RCMP tribunal’s decision when it comes to disciplinary action, which could range from a verbal reprimand to dismissal from the RCMP, Blackadar said.
“We have to wait and see what the outcome is of sentencing.”
By Steve Sharratt and Ryan Ross, The Guardian