A Whitehorse man has been sentenced to eight months in jail for a string of incidents that took place in March.
Richard Maurice, 31, was sentenced in territorial court Friday morning by Deputy Judge Brian Neal from British Columbia.
Maurice pled guilty to the assault of a paramedic, uttering threats to an RCMP constable, and resisting a peace officer.
He also admitted to theft under $5,000 from the local Walmart store, and breach of probation conditions to not attend the Independent Grocer nor Real Canadian Superstore.
The Crown stayed additional charges of mischief, assault of a peace officer, failure to comply with a probation order, and attempted theft under $5,000.
Crown prosecutor Joanna Phillips noted that Maurice has an “extensive criminal record” with the recent charges incurred just five days after he was released from a previous sentence and on probation.
The charges stem from three incidents that took place on March 14 and 15 this year.
According to the Crown’s statement of facts, Maurice attempted to steal a basket of meat from the Independent Grocer in downtown Whitehorse on March 14.
When he was caught trying to leave without paying, he dropped the basket and fled the store.
The following day, on March 15, he stole merchandise from Walmart.
That evening, Emergency Medical Services received a report of an intoxicated man sleeping at a booth in the BBQ King restaurant off Third Avenue near Ogilvie Street.
Responding to a request for assistance, the RCMP arrived at the restaurant and recognized the man as Maurice. They attempted to awaken him and put him under arrest, but Maurice resisted by pulling away and fighting.
At one point, Maurice fell on top of an officer, pinning him on the bench.
Also during the arrest, the officer said he gave Maurice two sharp punches to the head in order to stun him.
After Maurice was arrested and put in an RCMP vehicle, police say, he began threatening them.
Parts of the arrest were captured in two short video clips recorded by local resident Jordyn Carpenter.
In March, she told the Star that Maurice was sleeping at the restaurant when she arrived with family. A male and female officer then came to the restaurant and attempted to arrest him.
She said the male officer twisted Maurice’s arm behind his back and began attempting to restrain him.
In the first video, which is 10 seconds long, Maurice can be seen trying to stand up and get past the officers.
He is also seen struggling with the two officers, then falling on top of the male officer, pinning him against the booth.
“The male cop had to, like, climb out from underneath, and the female cop was holding the other guy’s hand telling him to stop resisting, but I think he was just trying to get up and trying to to get them to stop twisting his wrist,” Carpenter told the Star.
When she stopped recording, she said, the officer punched the man “a couple of times,” but she was not able to capture that, as they were obscured from view behind a table.
When they moved back into view, she began recording another video, which is 12 seconds long.
It shows the male officer punching Maurice in the head while a female officer holds his head and shoulder.
Carpenter can be heard saying. “Oh! Don’t punch him, holy!”
At that point. a paramedic steps into the frame, holds up her hand and says, “Hey, guys, can we not take videos?”
That video circulated on social media with mixed reactions.
Some comments on the video expressed shock and say the punch was unnecessary. Others felt it was appropriate, as Maurice was resisting.
Carpenter said she was shaken after the incident and felt that officers could have handled it better.
“I think if they would’ve woken him up differently or approached the situation from the beginning in a different manner, then they wouldn’t have had to do that,” she told the Star in March.
“He was just looking for somewhere warm to sleep and they just woke him up, and I would be terrified if I got woken up like that.”
She noted that she recorded the incident out of concern for Maurice’s safety, adding she was glad the video was being shared.
“I think just having the video shown and showing that police do kind of take it further than necessary and continuing to show and prove that might help,” she said.
In a press release issued in March, Yukon RCMP said they would not be investigating the arrest.
“Based on our understanding of the evidence and information available to us at this time, the RCMP are not planning additional reviews of the incident,” RCMP spokesperson Coralee Reid said in an email at the time.