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Worker accused of assault was 'scared to death'

Jun 01 2012

A senior City of Victoria bylaw officer testified Thursday that he was scared to death when an angry, yelling homeless man went straight toward him and entered his space.

Andrew Dolan, a 45-year-old former corrections officer who has worked for the city for almost 10 years, is charged with assaulting Andrew Scarisbrick in Kings Park on Caledonia Avenue.

Dolan took the stand in his own defence, telling the Victoria provincial court that when the City of Victoria brought in a bylaw regulating the hours people could camp in city parks, bylaw officers - with no use-of-force training and no weapons - were pressed into park enforcement.

"This was a drastic change in the nature of our duties," said Dolan. "It increased the risk to our officers tremendously."

Dolan testified he had dealt with Scarisbrick several times before the incident in Kings Park. Scarisbrick was an intravenous drug user who always carried syringes and small knives and screwdrivers, he said.

About 9: 50 a.m. on Oct. 20, 2010, Dolan and his supervisor, Steve Simmonds, cycled into the park and found Scarisbrick asleep.

Simmonds woke Scarisbrick, asked him to collect his belongings and move on. Dolan said he noticed syringes on the ground.

Simmonds moved to another area of the park to check on a shopping cart, which belonged to one of Scarisbrick's friends, said Dolan.

Scarisbrick suddenly jumped to his feet and started yelling at Simmonds: "You can't do that. What the F are you doing? That's not your stuff," Dolan testified.

Dolan said he stepped forward, put his hand up and told Scarisbrick to stop and calm down. Scarisbrick did not seem to notice because he was focusing so intently on Simmonds and the shopping cart, he recalled.

Again, Dolan told Scarisbrick to stop and calm down, but the homeless man kept moving forward until he was within arm's length, Dolan testified.

"He entered my personal space and I was forced to take him to the ground," said Dolan.

Scarisbrick landed on his side then rolled onto his back. Dolan was on all fours. Their faces were very close, he testified.

"At that point, I was scared to death Mr. Scarisbrick was going to spit in my face," said Dolan.

He was also worried he would be stuck with a used needle or one of the knives.

Dolan put his right arm on Scarisbrick's face and delivered two short blows with his forearm and elbow, he testified. He rolled Scarisbrick onto his stomach.

"He was violently struggling, kicking his legs, trying to buck me off."

Dolan testified that he could not get control of Scarisbrick. Simmonds did not help him.

Dolan then struck Scarisbrick three times in the shoulder area with his elbow. Scarisbrick kept struggling so Dolan struck him three more times.

"Why didn't you just get out of the way?" asked defence lawyer Dennis Murray.

Dolan replied that he felt it was dangerous to turn his back and believed Scarisbrick was going to assault Simmonds.

"He continued to move forward despite my trying to block his way and protect my partner. I was just in his way, he came straight at me and entered my space . . . I was scared to death," Dolan said.

"What was going through your mind?" asked Murray.

"That I have a wife and two small children at home," replied Dolan. "I wanted to go home to them uninjured."

Dolan denied bragging about the assault. Three bylaw officers testified Thursday that they never heard Dolan say: "I UFC'd his ass."

Bylaw officer John Kitson testified that two days after the incident Dolan rewrote his statement and discussed what happened with his colleagues.

"He was trying to recollect the exact sequence of events," said Kitson.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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