Sentencing delayed for Alberta Mountie convicted of assault on First Nations man

“When I watched the video, my reaction was one of disgust,” lawyer says

The sentencing of an Alberta RCMP officer convicted of assaulting a First Nations man in police custody has been pushed to July 15 because of pandemic complications.

The incident happened in 2017, but Const. Licio Soares, 35, was charged with one count of assault later on in 2019.

He was found guilty.

Security camera captured Soares assaulting Vernon Laboucan of Whitefish Lake First Nation.

“When I watched the video, my reaction was one of disgust. Putting aside the racial issues that are currently ongoing, this is a case where we place our trust and our confidence in police officers. And when they do something like this it is a serious breach of trust in the public’s confidence,” said Laboucan’s lawyer Rory Ziv.

“I actually couldn’t believe what I was watching. My client didn’t remember the incident, so he didn’t tell me about the incident.”

Soares was scheduled to be sentenced on June 29. But that was delayed because Laboucan could not attend the court date as he has COVID-19 symptoms and is in quarantine.

Laboucan is currently in custody in Peace River Correctional Centre for assault and second-degree murder charges of another individual.

The assault happened while Laboucan was intoxicated and threw his sweatshirt at the constable.

Soares then wraps the sweatshirt around Laboucan’s head, pushes him to the ground and beats him, punching and kneeing him repeatedly.

“It was just by good fortune that we did receive it and watched what happened,” said Ziv of the video. “There was no reason to actually look into this because our client didn’t relay to us what had happened.”

The RCMP says Soares, an eight-year RCMP veteran, has since transferred out of Slave Lake and that he remains on active duty.

“My client doesn’t wish any ill will on the officer, but we would like to see a carefully and well-reasoned sentencing by the judge,” said Ziv.

Video Journalist / Calgary

Tamara is Métis from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She received a diploma in interactive media arts at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon and has worked as a videographer for CBC in Winnipeg and Iqaluit. Tamara was hired by APTN in 2016 as a camera/editor and is now a video journalist in our Calgary bureau.