Lawyer says Doug McCallum’s memory fuzzy because he endured a ‘frightening, disturbing event’ – BC News
Photo: Photo: Bob Mackin.
Ex-mayor of Surrey Doug McCallum
UPDATE 5:45 p.m.
Even though ex-Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum’s memory of a parking lot argument with an angry citizen wasn’t crystal clear, his lead defence lawyer said Tuesday that he was co-operative with police when he complained about the alleged hit and run.
In closing arguments at McCallum’s public mischief trial in Surrey Provincial Court, Richard Peck said his client urged police to obtain surveillance footage, volunteered to provide his medical records, allowed his foot to be photographed by a police officer and gave up his shoes on request.
“Is this how someone acts who is fabricating this? Get the video, I’ll help in any way I can, here’s my records — none of that supports that interpretation,” Peck told Judge Reginald Harris.
McCallum accused Keep the RCMP in Surrey’s Debi Johnstone of running over his foot in the Southpoint Save-On-Foods parking lot on Sept. 4, 2021 after she unleashed a barrage of profanity at him and told him to resign. RCMP instead investigated McCallum for lying about the incident. McCallum was eventually charged with public mischief and pleaded not guilty when his trial began Oct. 31. He did not testify.
“If we’re making all this up, it’s very well-scripted,” Peck quipped.
RCMP officer Sgt. Andre Johnny testified Nov. 1 that investigators could not determine whether McCallum’s foot was run over because vegetation obscured a surveillance camera’s view of his lower leg and Johnstone’s rear wheel. But the video evidence contradicted McCallum’s claims that Johnstone pinned him to the vehicle and then sped away. McCallum casually walked away from the scene and later went shopping at the grocery store. He eventually filing a police complaint and visited the Peace Arch Hospital emergency room where a doctor found he had a contusion on his left foot but no visible swelling.
Nonetheless, Peck said the defence’s expert medical and engineering witnesses told the court that it was possible McCallum was run over without suffering any broken bones after Johnstone “targeted and stalked” his client.
“This, for him, McCallum, was a frightening, disturbing event and there is no doubt that such events could lead to misperception,” Peck said.
Peck called McCallum a dedicated public servant who weathered his fair share of typical and expected criticism during his time in office, which ended Monday when Brenda Locke was sworn-in as Surrey’s new mayor. However, Peck said that during his last term, McCallum faced aggressive opposition from a group vehemently against his program to replace the RCMP with a new municipal police force. Keep the RCMP in Surrey members protested at council meetings, public events and even outside his home. Peck called it “toxic fanaticism.”
“What is not to be expected, and sadly seems to have taken a flow in North America, is that a small subset of the population can respond to government initiatives that they disagree with in an aggressive and, in my respectful submission, democratically negative way,” Peck said.
Harris interrupted Peck near the end of his presentation with a pointed question about McCallum’s behaviour in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
“In this case, it would strike me if someone is going to fabricate that they’ve been run over on the foot, and you’re approaching the very investigator, wouldn’t you expect a feigned limp?” Harris asked. “So the absence of a feigned limp, is that something I can consider? If I’m going to the police and I want them to believe ‘Hey, I was run over,’ wouldn’t it make sense that I would be pretending to be limping and injured?”
Replied Peck: “That’s a reasonable anticipation or expectation in my view. As a piece of evidence, I think it can go into the mix.”
“The absence of it, to me, is somewhat striking,” Harris said.
Harris also asked whether the police were investigating harassment in addition to the driving incident. Peck said that Johnny was emphatic in his cross-examination that they didn’t investigate harassment.
“That’s what I thought, as well,” Harris said.
Closing arguments continue Wednesday morning.
ORIGINAL 3:50 p.m.
The emergency room doctor who treated ex-Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum found no visible swelling on the day he claimed a pro-RCMP activist drove over his left foot, Surrey Provincial Court heard on Tuesday.
McCallum alleged that Keep the RCMP in Surrey’s Debi Johnstone ran over his foot in the Southpoint Save-On-Foods parking lot on Sept. 4, 2021, after she unleashed a barrage of profanity at him. Police instead accused McCallum of lying about the incident and he was charged with public mischief. McCallum pleaded not guilty when the trial began Oct. 31, but did not testify.
Judge Reginald Harris heard that emergency room staff determined McCallum had a contusion on his left foot and that he complained of tingling and mild, dull pain on the top of his foot. McCallum underwent an X-ray but no fracture was found. A doctor told him to take Tylenol, ice his foot and follow up with his family doctor.
Orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Wing, an expert witness for the defence, said he saw nothing in McCallum’s file that was inconsistent with a mild, soft-tissue injury that could have been caused by a car running over a foot. He also suggested there could be a delayed reaction.
One of McCallum’s four lawyers switched gears and suggested another cause for McCallum’s injury.
“Have you observed similar soft tissue injuries arise in situations where, you know, the person’s foot is not actually contacted, but they’re reacting to a sudden stimuli like a car driving by quickly?” asked Eric Gottardi.
“The answer is, yes,” said foot and ankle specialist Wing. “I see people all the time who, in some kind of jerky motion twisting and turning, have relatively minor soft tissue injuries. But nonetheless, those soft tissue injuries are demonstrable and real with respect to discomfort, swelling.”
Sgt. Andre Johnny of the Surrey RCMP testified Nov. 1 that detectives could not determine whether the rear wheel on Johnstone’s Mustang convertible ever met McCallum’s foot, because a shrub blocked a surveillance camera’s view. The video evidence contradicted McCallum’s two other key claims that he had been pinned against a car and that Johnstone had sped away from the scene. McCallum casually walked away and later went shopping in the grocery store before complaining to the RCMP and visiting Peace Arch Hospital.
Wing admitted under cross-examination to Special Prosecutor Richard Fowler that he had not spoken with the physician who tended to McCallum. Wing confirmed that McCallum’s file said he had a history of high blood pressure and hypertension, which Fowler suggested could have contributed to swollen feet.
Meanwhile, the final witness called by McCallum’s lawyers was former Coun. Laurie Guerra.
Guerra, elected in 2018 with McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition, described how opposition to McCallum’s program to replace the RCMP with the Surrey Police Service escalated as the term progressed.
It began with emailed complaints from Keep the RCMP in Surrey founder Ivan Scott and progressed to activists speaking passionately at city council meetings, kiosks at community festivals and T-shirt wearing, placard-waving protesters.
Guerra said she asked RCMP to remove shouting protesters from one community festival in Fleetwood, but they refused. Guerra also alleged that Johnstone and another activist showed up at her house. She did not say when the incident occurred, only that her husband and her daughter were home at the time. She called it a “very different ballgame” from hearing yelling and swearing at the city council chamber.
“When they show up at your home, and you have to call the police and you ask the police ‘can I get a restraining order?’ and they say no, because they haven’t threatened your life and they haven’t done anything,” Guerra said.
McCallum’s lead lawyer Richard Peck began closing arguments Tuesday afternoon.
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