On July 15, former Slave Lake RCMP officer Licio Caleb Soares received a suspended sentence of 15 months probation for an assault.
Soares was convicted on May 27. The original sentencing date was June 29, but had to be adjourned.
Soares was charged with assault in June 2019. The charges were laid after the victim was found not guilty of assaulting a peace officer.
The assault happened on September 19, 2017 around 6 a.m. in the cell block of the Slave Lake RCMP detachment. Soares transferred from Slave Lake to Calgary a few months after the assault.
A suspended sentence means that if Soares doesn’t meet all of the conditions or is charged again, he can be re-sentenced.
The conditions are to report to probation in Calgary within 48 hours and as directed.
To have no contact or communication with the victim, who is an Indigenous man.
Within the first 10 months, to complete 150 hours of community service at an institution or charity which supports Indigenous people in Alberta. This is to be 15 hours per month for the 10 months, with monthly reports to the probation officer.
To complete a 10-hour course on the difficulties faced by Indigenous people in Canada by the RCMP. This must be completed before the 14th month.
The sentence does not necessarily mean that he will lose his job with the RCMP.
He is with the federal RCMP unit in Calgary.
“The RCMP is reviewing the sentence and how that affects his duty status,” says Slave Lake RCMP Staff Sergeant John Spaans, who has been following the case. The conviction goes onto Soares’ McNeil Disclosure which will follow him throughout his career.
Some general examples of how this works are an officer convicted of negligent investigation or deceit will not be able to testify. Also, one with a drug conviction will likely never work on a drug unit.
McNeil Disclosures are “technically public, if it is brought up in court,” says Spaans. Each time an RCMP officer charges someone, their McNeil Disclosure is sent to the Crown prosecutor. Often this is empty, but if there is something on it relevant to the case, the Crown will share it with the defense and it may come up in court.
The public prosecutors service of Canada website says, “the Court in McNeil found that the police and other investigating agencies must disclose to the prosecuting Crown, as first party disclosure material, findings of serious misconduct by police officers involved in the investigation of the accused.”
The McNeil Disclosure includes complaints against the officer to do with the same case; outstanding charges and convictions under the Criminal Code, Controlled Drugs and Substance Act, Police Act, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, and federal or provincial statutes (excluding minor traffic tickets).
While it would be rare, it is possible that someone with a dated criminal record could become an RCMP officer, says Spaans. It would be difficult and reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but is possible. For example, a person with a one-off 15-year-old impaired driving conviction, would maybe make the cut. This is the type of offence that might also be eligible for a pardon.