Kelowna cop walks away from assault conviction

The Kelowna Mountie convicted of assault earlier this year walked away from a courtroom Tuesday without a criminal record.

During sentencing, Judge Meg Shaw gave Const. Christopher Brinnen an absolute discharge, effectively wiping away the remnants of a 2010  run-in with Kelowna man Kyle Nelson.

Brinnen was on duty outside Leon Avenue clubs when Nelson, 24, started shouting at cops monitoring the bar flush. The two exchanged words, and a middle finger salute, but when Brinnen drove his police truck toward Nelson, he ran away. Brinnen  chased Nelson down, and punched him in the face when he caught up.

"This is a one-off incident," Shaw said, while rendering her judgement. "By the publicity alone, RCMP proceedings, loss of respect of the community as well as fellow officers, there's no need for further deterrence."

Shaw was also swayed by the impromptu apology Brinnen offered after Crown counsel and defence gave their sentencing submissions.

"I do want to apologize for my decisions that night," said Brinnen, who only returned to duty as a dog handler April 2. He'd been relegated to administrative duties since his February conviction.

"I've had a 15 year career and I don't want this to define it."

That said, he continued, he entered into programs following the conviction that taught him how to be a "better police officer."

In particular, Brinnen took two 21 hour programs from the Justice Institute — Dealing with Anger and Dealing with Foundations of Collaborative Conflict Resolution.

Brinnen's family and friends were in the courtroom with him as the decision was rendered, and quietly celebrated the result.

It wasn't what the victim's mother, Heather Nelson was hoping for, however.

"I'm disappointed," she said, outside the courthouse.  "We went through all those steps and he was found guilty."

Preferably, she said, the judge would have found cause to follow Crown Counsel Joel Gold's recommendation, giving Brinnen a conditional sentence, with one year probation and 60 hours of community service.

Her son, who suffered a black eye after a Valentine's Day 2010 incident with Brinnen, suffered the same kind of public scrutiny and shaming the judge said Brinnen had, she said, but it wasn't factored into the decision making. And, she pointed out, Brinnen's impromptu apology didn't address him in any way.

Nelson wasn't disappointed with every outcome from the court, though. She was pleased to hear Brinnen had taken training to deal with anger and conflict management, adding it's just too bad it wasn't part of his initial training.

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