The trial of Barry Lupyrypa, a former Sturgeon County council candidate, accused of assaulting a Morinville police officer, got under way last week, three-and-a-half years after the incident.
The Crown rested its case yesterday and Lupyrypa is expected to call his first witness today. Lupyrypa is representing himself on charges of obstruction and assaulting a police officer in February 2006.
Testimony began June 10 from Const. Daniel Kehler who told the court Lupyrypa pushed him twice in a struggle that ensued after Kehler asked him to get out of his vehicle.
He testified he initially had a calm conversation with Lupyrypa after seeing him pull into a farmer's field on Sturgeon Road. Kehler spotted a hunting rifle and asked Lupyrypa to step out so he could inspect it. He said he didn't mention the weapon so Lupyrypa wouldn't reach for it.
Kehler said Lupyrypa refused and started yelling at him while refusing to get out.
A scuffle ensued after Lupyrypa did exit and according to Kehler, Lupyrypa pushed him twice — first when he attempted to grab his wrist to arrest the man and a second time in the ensuing scuffle.
He pepper-sprayed Lupyrypa three times; once following the first push, a second time when the man went back towards his vehicle and a third time when the man refused to get back out of his vehicle.
He also drew his gun and Taser in the melee, but fired neither.
Lupyrypa challenged Kehler on virtually every aspect of his testimony.
Lupyrypa also highlighted that he had been released after the incident and charged seven months later.
Under cross-examination, Kehler said he never directly identified himself as a police officer and assumed Lupyrypa realized that fact based on his police car and uniform.
Lupyrypa then brought up a bus crash in May 2005 that took the lives of six people.
"You thought you could see the lights on that bus too, didn't you?"
Kehler was at that accident and spotted the bus stranded on the highway before leaving the scene to get a tow truck that could remove it.
Lupyrypa's comment earned a rebuke from the judge who had already warned him about bringing up the unrelated incident.
During another heated exchange, Crown prosecutor Gerry Bowring objected to Lupyrypa's cross-examination because he appeared to be admonishing the witness and Lupyrypa went a step further.
"I am more than admonishing him. I am calling him an outright liar."
Lupyrypa also said the constable should be charged with perjury.
A civilian ride-along was with Kehler that night and testified about the incident from her point of view in the front of Kehler's cruiser.
She said the officer didn't pull his gun and Lupyrypa was only pepper-sprayed once.
Lupyrypa could be facing new charges. The trial began on June 10, but pre-trial motions began on June 1.
Lupyrypa was taken to hospital following the first day of motions complaining of chest pain.
Following a 10-hour stay in hospital, he faxed a letter to the court including a doctor's note that appeared to excuse him from court until June 4.
Bowring called emergency room doctor David Hoshiazki, who testified he wrote the note, but someone had changed the dates on it.
Lupyrypa said another doctor gave permission for the changes after Hoshiazki went off shift just before he was discharged.
Bowring said despite Lupyrypa's statements he would be asking the Morinville RCMP to investigate possible perjury or forged document charges.
Bowring was brought in from Manitoba specifically for this case.
Alberta Justice spokesperson Alison Burns said they wanted an impartial prosecutor.
Lupyrypa wrote the solicitor general and the premier about his case. Burns said it is important the prosecutor be seen as completely neutral.
"It is just a precaution to avoid any conceived conflict of interest."