A judge has postponed the trial for assault Const. Nathan Parker, shot by another police officer in 2018, amid trouble surrounding a key witness who had access to the contents of a related investigation by the Ontario police watchdog.
On Friday, Parker’s attorney continued an action that began the day before suggesting that Sgt be cross-examined. Shane Donovan may be tainted as he possessed a USB stick that he received from the Crown when he was charged with attempted murder.
Judge Anthony Leach closed the proceedings for the day by asking Donovan to turn over the storage device that contained thousands of pages of statements, photos and recordings from an archive of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
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The unit was sealed as evidence until an attorney files a request to examine it.
Leach also warned Donovan, still on the cross-examination stand, that he is free to obtain independent legal advice and discuss what has happened so far at trial.
“I have ordered a transcript of your evidence for the court to be available and I am happy to have a second copy in case you hire an attorney to give you any advice,” Leach told Donovan.
On Wednesday, attorney Joseph Markson suggested to Leach that Donovan’s possession of the flash drive cast doubt on his credibility, as he was only a witness.
Witnesses generally receive exclusion orders from a judge that limit contact to avoid potential biases in testimony.
“This is an unfortunate development because Sgt. Donovan should never have had possession of the SIU file after the charges were dismissed, ”Markson told the court Wednesday.
Donovan received the SIU disclosure data as a defense tool when he was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon after shooting Parker 10 times in the middle of an altercation related to a traffic investigation in 2018.
The Crown would later drop those charges, saying there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.
Leach, on the fourth day of the trial, acknowledged that Donovan might have access to other people’s statements and materials that witnesses don’t usually get.
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“When you accessed those materials and whether they influenced your current testimony at trial are relevant and important issues for the defense. I totally understand it, ”Leach told the court.
During Friday’s session, Markson suggested that Donovan’s possession of the files “led” to a couple of ulterior motives: to tailor trial evidence as a whistleblower, not as a witness, and also to use it in anticipation of a civil litigation.
Jeremy Tatum of The Crown said his presentation was to continue the cross-examination of Sgt. Donovan suggested that “there is no prejudice against doing it.”
“Agent Parker is entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect one. Two days of testing time have been lost. “
Tatum went on to say that there is no missing conclusion that any additional evidence Donovan may have reviewed would affect his credibility as a witness.
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However, Leach suggested that if Parker’s SIU statement appears on the USB drive and analysis of the metadata on the drive reveals that Donovan had accessed, that would be something the defense might question.
“So if the USB goes to the defense via whatever route it is going to go and shows that it acceded to defendant Parker’s statement, that would, in my opinion, at least possibly impact his credibility,” Leach said.
Parker, 55, pleaded not guilty to the assault on Donovan before being shot in broad daylight on November 29, 2018 at Roland Road and Effingham Street in Pelham, Ontario.
The trial will resume on Wednesday, September 22 with Sgt. Donovan is still being questioned.
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