Judge rejects Native sentencing for former cops
Facebook Twitter Email

Two white cops found guilty of abandoning a Native man in the freezing cold will not be punished through a traditional Aboriginal sentencing circle, a judge in Canada decided on Monday.

Saying that former officers Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson did not show the proper remorse for their crime, Judge Eugene Scheibel denied their unusual request. Neither man has accepted responsibility, he added.

But also contributing to the decision was the fact that a sentencing circle went against the wishes of the victim. At a status hearing last Friday, the government lawyers who filed the charges against the ex-cops said Darrell Night of the Salteaux First Nation man didn't want to face the men who dropped him on the outskirts of town in January 2000.

"Night is not prepared to be involved in this process," said government prosecutors.

So instead, the men will face a maximum of 10 years in prison for their crime. Scheibel is expected to sentence the men tomorrow.

But the case, which has heightened racial tensions in the Saskatchewan, may not be over yet. All throughout their trial, the two men proclaimed their innocence and vowed to appeal if found guilty.

After several hours of deliberation, an all white jury did just that back in September and convicted the men of unlawful confinement. Hatchen and Munson admitted leaving Night out in the cold but said he asked for it.

So when they requested a sentencing circle, it shocked many Aboriginals. Often called restorative justice, it typically involves several community members, including the victim, and is aimed at mending wounds.

The cops said a circle would heal tensions between the Native community and law enforcement. But after more than a decade of Native men being found dead on the outskirts of town, many felt the request was a "slap in the face," according to Lawrence Joseph of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.

More than 500 sentencing circles have been carried out in Saskatchewan since 1992. A judge oversees the recommendation made by participants and can reject it if he finds the punishment too harsh or too light.

Charges were filed in Night's case after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police began an investigation. However, the force recommended no charges in the deaths of two other Native men found frozen at about the same time Night was abandoned.

A coroner's jury could not conclude wrongdoing in the death of Rodney Naistus. Another jury will consider Lawrence Wegner's case in January.

Relevant Links:
Starlight Tours, from the CBC -

Related Stories:
White cops want Native justice (10/31)
Officers found guilty for abandoning Native man(9/21)
Officers admit abandoning Native man (9/19)
All-white jury selected for Sask. officers (9/11)
Hearing held for accused cop (9/12)
Racial tensions rise over police harassment (5/04)
First Nations say police charges don't go far enough (4/13)
Officers charged in Saskatoon (4/12)