Monday, July 15, 2024

Democracy Fund coverage of Day #9

Coverage courtesy of the Democracy Fund

Day 9 of the Tamara Lich and Chris Barber Trial began with the conclusion of Sgt. Pilotte’s cross-examination.

Her testimony was part of a voir dire, a trial within a trial, to determine the admissibility of the crown’s evidence. The crown originally intended to call two witnesses today: Officer Martel and Officer Ankou, however, they were only able to call Officer Martel due to the duration required for examination in chief.

Officer Martel, an officer with Surete du Quebec, requested to rely on notes that were not written by him but by a team of crowd control officers. The defence raised concerns about this and other documentation Martel intended to rely on, including a report that they had not been provided.

Typically, officer witnesses are only permitted to rely upon contemporaneous, handwritten duty book notes during testimony.

Martel also intended to rely on an officer’s “log” that included notes from two other officers but none written by Officer Martel himself. Justice Perkins-McVey stated that she would not qualify these notes without prior defence questioning.

During this dispute, Lawrence Greenspon asked Officer Martel about other officers’ notes contained in some of these documents that were not his own. Ultimately, Justice Perkins-McVey decided that Officer Martel would only be permitted to rely on personally verified documents.

The crown began their examination in chief, with Officer Martel detailing the deployment of squadrons from Quebec police services. Officer Martel, a member of the “green squad,” explained that his mandate was primarily crowd control and that he was positioned 15 feet behind the front line. When asked about other police services present, Martel admitted that he didn’t know them all. His orders from “command” were simply to “make a line.”

Justice Perkins-McVey questioned Martel about body cameras, to which he responded that neither he nor his squad wore them. The crown asked for more details about the “demonstrators,” but Justice Perkins-McVey corrected the terminology, stating “people” instead.

Martel explained that most of his commands came from the “command center,” but he wasn’t sure who specifically. When asked about the crowd’s size, Martel was unable to provide an exact number. He further stated that he did not make any arrests but that he observed some being made.

Martel was then shown a video of the police line with officers wearing green crowd control equipment. He recognized the officers by their lighter green “epaulets.” He testified that this was the “green squad.”

He further testified that the orders he received from the command were “military-style.” He mentioned that when the officers tried to move forward, the crowd would push in the opposite direction.

During the cross-examination, Martel stated that he had no notes from a meeting he had with the RCMP and other police officers. He also mentioned that there are no recordings of the radio exchanges between him and his squad or with command, and he agreed that he attended a briefing on the morning he arrived in Ottawa but did not make any contemporaneous notes. He further admitted that during his deployment, it was difficult for him to see what the civilians were doing in front of the “front line.”

The defence played a video showing officers with lighter green “epaulets,” and Martel confirmed that they were members of his squad. Martel is identified in one of the videos via his badge number on his helmet.

Martel also admitted that he used the expression “garder la ligne” or “hold the line” on a number of occasions when giving orders to his squadron.

During cross-examination by Greenspon, Martel was asked if he knew the locations of any of the 13 convoys present in Ottawa, to which he answered “No.” Greenspon suggested that the demonstration must have been peaceful since Martel and his entire green squadron were able to leave the front line and go for lunch. Martel stated that he was instructed to leave and go for lunch at the Chateau Laurier, adding that it was a “boxed” lunch. Greenspon asked what the protesters were doing during this time or if they had gone for lunch too, to which Martel responded that he was unsure.