Pubdate: Wed, 23 Jun 2010
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Sam Pazzano


NEWMARKET - A hulking Toronto cop was found guilty Tuesday of assault
causing bodily harm for breaking a scrawny heroin addict's arm.

Madam Justice Lucia Favret found Det. Christopher Higgins guilty of
assault causing bodily harm against Gary Shuparski, then 50, on April
1, 2004, based on medical evidence and other testimony that
corroborates the addict's version of events.

"It doesn't make any sense that he wouldn't have complained of (the
broken arm) earlier, so he could make the police take him to the
hospital," Favret said in reading her judgment.

Shuparski testified that Higgins kicked his arm "like a football" in
an interview room at 51 Division while the 5-foot-7, 120-pound
prisoner was on the floor, using his forearms to protect his ribs.

It's the second trial on these allegations for Higgins, 39, a 20-year
veteran of the police service, who was acquitted at a 2005 trial. The
Crown appealed, winning a second trial in 2007.

Shuparski received what is known as a "classic night-stick fracture" -
which usually occurs when the forearm bone, exposed in a defensive
gesture, is struck by a hard object such as a baseball bat or lead
pipe, court heard.

The defence is asserting Shuparski's arm was accidentally broken when
250-pound Const. Joe Pedneault and 275-pound Higgins arrested him at
his North York apartment.

Favret rejected the defence version. She ruled instead that his arm
was broken in an interview room at 51 Division when Shuparski was
alone in the room with Higgins.

Shuparski angered the burly Higgins by using an obscenity to tell him
to look up his date of birth, rather than answering the officer's
question. Shuparski, who died of a heroin overdose in 2006, testified
he was punched and dropped to the floor. He said he then shielded his
ribs with his arms from Higgins' kick.

Favret noted that Shuparski was strip-searched, removing his T-shirt
without difficulty, and appeared normal, if upset, by the arrest.

His immediate reaction - profanely accusing Higgins of breaking his
f---ing arm" - and writhing in intense pain was consistent with expert
medical evidence given at the trial, said Favret.

Shuparski never complained of the broken arm until hours later when he
was at 51 Division, because he was high when the violent arrest
occurred, defence lawyer Gary Clewley argued.

Crown Attorney John McInnes countered if Shuparski was so stoned that
the drugs "obliterated the pain of a fractured bone," his state would
have been "dramatically apparent to any layperson." "By everyone's
account, Shuparski was behaving normally once he recovered from the
. shock (of the police searching his home and arresting him),"
McInnes said.

Favret will sentence Higgins on Sept. 29. 
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