On May 27, former Slave Lake RCMP officer Licio Caleb Soares (35) was found of guilty of assault. This was after a trial spread out over five months. It was held on three days: January 9. February 26, and May 27.
Soares will be sentenced on June 29, 2020 in High Prairie. The trial started in Slave Lake, but the verdict was moved to High Prairie via phone because of COVID-19.
A former Slave Lake RCMP officer, 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.
At that time, Soares arrested the victim for breach of conditions. The victim was heavily intoxicated with drugs and alcohol. He was under conditions not to consume either.
A video from the hallway between the cells was entered as evidence at the trial.
An early video time stamp was 06:01:46. This shows Soares bring the victim into the cell block.
At 6:16 and some seconds, the victim threw his shirt at Soares. At 6:16:14, Soares appeared to tackle him. In the following seconds, Soares appeared to slap him in the head several times and knee him in the side and back. By 6:16:54, the victim was handcuffed.
After the altercation, Soares charged the victim with assaulting a peace officer. This was later overturned, and Soares was charged.
On the first day of Soares’ trial, the victim and several people testified. The information below is from testimonies at the trial.
The victim’s testimony – Jan. 8, 2020
The victim (32) is five feet eight inches tall and weighed 165 pounds at the time. He isn’t familiar with martial arts.
In September 2017, the victim was living in Slave Lake with an aunt. He has no memory of being arrested or assaulted.
“I was heavily intoxicated,” he said. “I was blacked out drunk. When I woke the next morning, I was in pain all over the place.”
The victim was drinking vodka all day and had taken methamphetamine. By the early morning of Sept. 19, 2017, he had been awake for nine days doing drugs and drinking.
Under cross-examination, the victim admitted he has a history of fighting with police while intoxicated.
The victim said he told the guard that his face, neck, back, and ribs hurt and didn’t go to the hospital.
The defence showed the victim his client care record from a visit to the Slave Lake hospital on September 21, 2017. He had a prescription for Tylenol 3 for earlier injuries, which hadn’t been taken for two days at this time.
Soares’ testimony – Feb. 26, 2020
Soares is around 6 feet tall, and weighs about 220 pounds. In 2017, he’d been with the RCMP almost five years, all of them in Slave Lake. He’s studied judo and jujitsu.
Much of his testimony and cross examination was going step by step through the video evidence and explaining his thought processes and actions.
Soares said that his actions were in response to aggression from the victim, and in his opinion didn’t warrant paperwork.
When the victim threw his shirt at Soares, Soares assumed it was a distraction. He pushed the victim to the ground. The victim rolled out of the way, which surprised Soares.
The victim kept looking at him. Soares used the palm of his hands to push his face away. The victim kept moving in ways that Soares perceived as trying to get up. Soares used his knee, open hands and body weight to move the victim closer to the wall.
The knee strikes were at a quarter strength to try and turn the victim onto his belly, to handcuff him, Soares said.