Surveillance video of cop who stepped on man's neck for 2-minutes is found guilty of assault
An Ottawa police officer has been found guilty of assault and assault with a weapon for stepping on a man's neck for more than two minutes and jabbing him with a closed baton in August 2021.
Const. Goran Beric had been charged by Waterloo police in 2022 after their investigation. The officer, who has been a member of the Ottawa Police Service since 2006, was assigned to administrative duties.
On the night of Aug. 4, 2021, Beric and four other officers responded to reports of a man covered in blood and screaming inside an Ottawa Community Housing building on Bronson Avenue.
Ontario court Justice Janet O'Brien ruled on Wednesday that the force Beric used to jab Derrick Weyman's head with a baton while he was lying on his side in the lobby was unlawful and unnecessary.
Weyman wasn't struggling at that point, she said, and Beric had control.
O'Brien also ruled that Beric stepping on Weyman's "very vulnerable" head and neck for more than two minutes — caught on surveillance video shown during the trial — was excessive and unnecessary.
He didn't stop and reassess the situation, as his training dictated, Weyman was intoxicated and not resisting, and Beric was much larger, she found.
Recounting the video evidence, O'Brien said it shows Weyman stumbling, then taking a few steps and leaning toward Beric, who kicks Weyman's chest to push him back. Weyman catches Beric's foot, Beric appears to try to strike Weyman and misses, and then another officer takes Weyman to the ground, O'Brien said.
Beric then steps on Weyman's neck and head with his heavy work boot, and keeps it there for two minutes and five seconds. Weyman never loses consciousness, but sometimes goes limp.
Beric, who attended Wednesday's proceeding virtually with his lawyer, was wearing a black face mask and long-sleeved black shirt. He shifted in his seat and furrowed his brow as the judgment was being read.
In her decision, O'Brien said Beric admitted bringing his baton in contact with Weyman's head and putting his foot on Weyman's head, and that "neither of these actions was in accordance with his training." But Beric maintained that force was necessary and reasonable under the circumstances, she said.
O'Brien found Beric — who testified in his own defence — to be an unreliable witness, and pointed out several discrepancies between his notes, his two days of testimony, and the surveillance video.
Ontario's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, did not handle the case because Weyman was not seriously injured by the officer. The SIU's mandate is only invoked in cases of serious injury, death and sexual assault involving police, or when shots are fired by police.