Sentencing of Hamilton officer who pleaded guilty to assault of Indigenous man begins

The first part of a sentencing hearing for a Hamilton police officer who pleaded guilty to the assault of an Indigenous man began on Friday.

Const. Brian Wren, who has been with Hamilton police for more than a decade, had been accused of stomping on Patrick Tomchuk’s head during an arrest involving multiple officers at a gas station tied to a stolen vehicle investigation in late May 2022.

Video footage of the incident taken on a cellphone by a bystander, became a key piece of evidence in the matter.

Sentencing submissions took up most of Friday’s session, after which Justice Bruce Pugsley admitted he would likely need to deliver his sentence at a later date.

Community impact statements were read in court by the vice chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), as well as a representative of Hamilton’s Indigenous Consultation Circle.

Kimberly Beaudin, vice chief of CAP, told the court Wren’s charges were “a starting point” but “insufficient” to relieve the fears of Indigenous people who feel systems do not protect them.

“Until there is a deeper change in accountability and real authority given to Indigenous communities to protect themselves against abuses, we can only expect our worst fears to continue being confirmed,” Beaudin said.

Court also heard that Wren self-identifies as Indigenous.

The Crown and the defence are jointly recommending a suspended sentence with 18 months probation.

The matter is expected to return to a courtroom on June 19.

In the aftermath of the 2022 interaction, Hamilton police have since appointed their first Indigenous liaison officer, Stacey Hill.

Hamilton Police Services (HPS) Board chair Pat Mandy told Global News in April that despite being founded “on a negative issue” the new role is the “first step” in opening up conversations, asking: What will make Indigenous community members “feel safer.”

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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