Belleville Police Service Officer Receives Conditional Discharge for Assault on Indigenous Man

On July 3, 2024, Justice Patrick Hurley of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Belleville, Ontario ordered a conditional discharge of Constable Jeffrey Smith in respect of the assault of Mr. Mario Baptiste Jr., an Indigenous man from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

Constable Smith, along with Constable Fyke of the Belleville Police Service, were both charged with assault causing bodily harm on Mario Baptiste Jr. during a takedown of Mr. Baptiste at a Taco Bell restaurant in Belleville on November 15, 2019. The incident resulted in Mr. Baptiste losing consciousness and sustaining several injuries such as finger fractures, rib fractures and extensive bruising.

Constable Fyke was acquitted on the charge of assault. The Crown is appealing the acquittal of Constable Fyke and the acquittal of Constable Smith for the charge of assault causing bodily harm.

Falconers LLP partner Asha James and associate Shelby Percival are honoured to represent Baptiste Jr. in his civil proceedings against the police service and specific named constables. In reaction to the decision, Asha James stated that:

“Mr. Baptiste and his family are of course disappointed by the decision of Justice Hurley. Police are placed in positions of trust. They have the power to use force against ordinary citizens. However, when that force is used unlawfully, the community expects that police are held to account for their conduct. Mr. Smith gets to continue to be a police officer with the Belleville Police Service and Mr. Baptiste, who did nothing wrong that day, is afraid for his safety and won’t come into Belleville unaccompanied. Where is the justice in that?”

Relevant Documents:

Baptiste Press Advisory – July 3, 2024

Media Coverage: 

John Spitters, Quinte News (July 3, 2024) – “Conditional discharge for Belleville police officer”

Previous Postings: – December 20, 2023 November 9, 2023

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