An Ottawa police officer has been found guilty of discreditable conduct after getting into a verbal and physical altercation with 15- and 16-year-olds — and detaining one of them in violation of his Charter rights — while the officer was supposed to be on medical leave and off duty.
It happened on April 24, 2021, when Const. Pierre Fournier and his brother were about to go hunting near Greely, according to a decision released Tuesday.
But when Fournier saw a group of people with motorbikes near a gravel pit, he turned and headed toward them instead. All but one of the youths rode away, two of them giving Fournier the finger.
Fournier had worked the area for a long time and knew there had been a longstanding issue with youths on motorbikes trespassing in the gravel pit on private land without insurance.
He believed no one — including the parents of the youths and police — were doing enough to stop "the taunting of the property owners and the risk of litigation from accident or injury," according to a summary of the defence's position.
Aggressive, profane, mocking
Still, hearing officer Supt. (retired) Chris Renwick determined that Fournier's initial approach was aggressive, and that when Fournier took hold of the remaining youth's shoulder or bike and said, "You are not going anywhere," he was detaining the 15-year-old in violation of his Charter rights.
Fournier also used profanity and mocking words, which some took to be racial slurs, according to prosecutor Vanessa Stewart. He began a trespassing investigation and eventually identified himself as a police officer when he shouldn't have, and allowed the incident to escalate into a physical altercation.
There was debate about whether the fight involved punching or shoving, but regardless, any reasonable person would determine that the force's reputation "suffered damage from Const. Fournier's actions that day," Renwick wrote.
He should have deemed himself a witness and reported the trespass to police instead of placing himself on duty and exercising his authority as an officer, the decision reads.
Fournier was charged criminally with assault and mischief in June of 2021, but the charges were withdrawn by the Crown in September that year.
The Police Services Act charge was laid in the spring of 2023. Sentencing will take place at a later date.
Fournier was suspended with pay around the time the criminal charges were laid. An update on his status was not immediately available Wednesday.