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Edmonton MP charged with refusing breath sample refused to co-operate: officer

Edmonton MP Peter Goldring, left, speaks to media as his lawyer Dino Bottos looks on outside court in Edmonton, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012.


A police officer says he and a supervisor had to handcuff a "belligerent" MP when he refused to provide a breath sample during a routine checkstop.

But Peter Goldring's lawyer pointed out while cross-examining Constable Trevor Shelrud that his notes and records from that night don't use any such word to characterize the former Conservative MP's behaviour.

"This is just news today?" Dino Bottos asked at Goldring's trial Thursday.

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The politician faces a charge of refusing to provide a breathalyzer sample during a checkstop just after midnight on Dec. 4, 2011.

Constable Shelrud acknowledged that he didn't write down descriptions such as "belligerent," "snarky," "argumentative" or "condescending" – words he used during Thursday's testimony and at a pre-trial hearing last fall. But those descriptions apply, he said.

"The report doesn't describe the way he was acting," said Constable Shelrud, who added Mr. 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."

Mr. Goldring has represented Edmonton-East since he was 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.

Constable Shelrud repeated testimony he gave at the 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. Mr. Goldring admitted to having had one beer, but Constable Shelrud said he noticed a strong smell of alcohol coming from the vehicle.

He said he told Mr. Goldring to remain inside while he went back to the police vehicle to confirm Mr. Goldring's identity and notify his supervisor. Mr. Goldring then opened the door and walked toward Constable Shelrud's vehicle.

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Last fall, Constable Shelrud testified Mr. Goldring was trying to "negotiate" with him. But under cross-examination, he acknowledged Mr. 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," Constable Shelrud said. "He was trying to convince me to let him go.

"Pleading would have been a better word."

Constable Shelrud testified that Mr. Goldring, after an initial conversation, refused to roll down his window for the breathalyzer. He said that Mr. 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."

Constable Shelrud notified his supervisor. Even after that officer arrived, the two couldn't get Mr. Goldring to take the test, he said.

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"[The supervisor] asked Goldring, 'Are you going to provide a sample of your breath?' "Goldring just ignored the question," Constable Shelrud said. "He would look at me with this judgmental look."

Eventually, the officers decided to arrest MR. Goldring. The supervisor stuck his hand through the partly open window and unlocked the door, so Constable Shelrud could take Mr. 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 Constable 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.

Mr. Bottos plans to file a constitutional challenge to the arrest, but Judge Larry Anderson is hearing the evidence first.

Mr. 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.

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