A long-time Winnipeg police officer has been acquitted of all charges after being accused of allegedly altering information in a police database to get out of a $259 speeding ticket in October 2019.
In Manitoba’s provincial court on Thursday, Judge Cindy Sholdice delivered her decision in the trial of Patrol Sgt. Sean Cassidy – a 24-year veteran of the Winnipeg Police Service.
“Having considered all of the evidence, I am not satisfied of Mr. Cassidy’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for any of the offences,” she said.
Cassidy had pleaded not guilty to charges of unauthorized use of a computer, fraud and obstruction of justice.
During the trial in October 2021, court heard Cassidy—the former supervisor of the Winnipeg police photo radar unit—was flashed by a photo radar while driving members of his unit for a team breakfast and to check a problem intersection in his personal vehicle on Oct 1, 2019.
Cassidy had testified later that day he was tasked with adding four license plates to the special covert plates list—a list of police vehicles exempt from photo radar and red light tickets.
After one of the plates he was entering didn’t show up on the list, Cassidy told the court he entered his own personal license plate as an integrity test to see if it would show up in the database. He said he did this again later that day, but testified he voided his plates from the list after adding them into the database.
While Cassidy’s lawyers argued there was no attempt to stop the ticket from being issued, Crown Prosecutor Brett Rach argued Cassidy knew what he was doing.
However, Sholdice said anyone charged with an offense under the criminal code of Canada is presumed innocent unless and until the Crown proves that guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. She said probable or probable guilt does not satisfy the burden.
“While Mr. Cassidy’s explanation for putting his plates on the covert plate list the same day he received confirmation that a ticket would issue – a ticket that he felt he should not be getting – is highly suspicious, convenient and almost implausible, when considering his evidence in the context of all of the evidence, I am left in a doubt as to his guilt,” Sholdice said in her decision.
She said acquittals will be entered on all three charges against Cassidy.
“Our client has always maintained his innocence. He’s happy with the Court’s decision and ready to move on from this chapter,” Cassidy’s lawyer Lisa LaBossiere told CTV News in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) told CTV News it would be premature for them to comment as the WPS has not had time to digest the court’s decision.