EDMONTON – The lawyer for an Edmonton MP charged with not providing a breath sample is trying to raise questions about the circumstances of the arrest.
Dino Bottos is also trying to raise doubt about how his client, Peter Goldring, is being characterized by police.
Bottos was cross-examining arresting officer Trevor Shelrud at Goldring’s trial in Edmonton on Thursday.
Shelrud testified that Goldring was dismissive, argumentative and unco-operative the night he was arrested, but Bottos pointed out those words aren’t in Shelrud’s notes.
Bottos also pointed out Shelrud testified that he arrested and charged Goldring at 12:53 that night. Police documents list the time as 12:24, meaning that Goldring should have been given access to legal counsel sooner than he was.
Shelrud responded that the time on the documents refers to the time Goldring was stopped. He said he routinely notes times that way in order to give the accused a break. If he were to hand out a 24-hour licence suspension, the officer noted, it would be over that much sooner.
“I always try to lean on the side of the accused,” he said. “I start at the beginning of the traffic stop.”
Goldring, who has been an MP for Edmonton East since 1997, is charged with refusing to provide a breathalyzer sample during a checkstop just after midnight on Dec. 4, 2011.
Shelrud acknowledged that he didn’t write down descriptions such as “belligerent,” “snarky,” “argumentative” or “condescending.” But those descriptions apply, he said.
“The report doesn’t describe the way he was acting,” said Shelrud, who added Goldring’s demeanour and body language remained clear in his memory.
“When you stop a member of Parliament, that’s a fairly significant moment. I remember that.”
Goldring was first elected under the Reform banner in 1997. He was elected most recently as a Conservative, but has sat as an Independent since shortly after his arrest.
Shelrud repeated testimony he gave at a pre-trial hearing in which he described how he stopped Goldring’s vehicle shortly after midnight as it was pulling away from a north-end bar. Goldring admitted to having had one beer, but Shelrud said he noticed a strong smell of alcohol coming from the vehicle.
He said he told Goldring to remain inside while he went back to the police vehicle to confirm Goldring’s identity and notify his supervisor. Goldring then opened the door and walked toward Shelrud’s vehicle.
Last fall, Shelrud testified Goldring was trying to “negotiate” with him. But under cross-examination, he acknowledged Goldring just asked him why he had been stopped and explained he was busy and was trying to get home.
“He was still trying to influence me,” Shelrud said. “He was trying to convince me to let him go.
“Pleading would have been a better word.”
Shelrud testified that Goldring, after an initial conversation, refused to roll down his window for the breathalyzer. He said that Goldring refused to answer his questions and sat behind the locked door of his vehicle, staring straight ahead.
“I was being commanding and I don’t think he liked that.”
Shelrud notified his supervisor. Even after that officer arrived, the two couldn’t get Goldring to take the test, he said.
“(The supervisor) asked Goldring, ‘Are you going to provide a sample of your breath?’
“Goldring just ignored the question,” Shelrud said. “He would look at me with this judgmental look.”
Eventually, the officers decided to arrest Goldring. The supervisor stuck his hand through the partly open window and unlocked the door, so Shelrud could take Goldring’s arm and pull him out.
“I told him to put his hands behind his back so that I could handcuff him. He did not comply so I grabbed his hands and pulled them behind his back.”
The cuffs were removed later after Goldring complained they had caused a slight cut on his wrist. He was released about 1:40 a.m. and was driven home by his wife, who had observed the arrest from a separate car.
Bottos plans to file a constitutional challenge to the arrest, but Judge Larry Anderson is hearing the evidence first.
Goldring has suggested his defence will include the assertion that police unfairly targeted him.
He has long been a critic of random breathalyzers and checkstops. He says he supports a crackdown on drinking and driving, but he believes that random checks with no reasonable grounds for search infringe on civil liberties.