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Toronto Star - Sept. 23, 2006 - By Isable Teotonio, Staff Reporter  -  The Mississauga News - Sept 24, 2006 - Torstar Network.

Officer 'threw' paraplegic down

Pulled man from wheelchair during investigation, trial told
Both he and friend are charged with causing a disturbance

A paraplegic man was pulled from his wheelchair by Peel police, dragged to a cruiser and charged with causing a disturbance because he had urged them to help a stabbing victim, a court heard Friday.

"It was very violent," recalled Stephen Miller, who witnessed the chaotic scene from just a few metres away as he tended to the victim by applying pressure to the stab wound.

Moments later, Miller said, he too was yanked away from the victim, an old high school friend, pulled into a cruiser and charged with the same offence.

Ontario Court Justice Peter Wilkie was told that on July 29, 2005, at about 6 p.m., police were called to a large building complex on Glen Erin Dr. in Mississauga after reports of a stabbing.

Miller, a 20-year-old political science student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, said he had just finished work and stopped by the complex to see some friends. He was standing outside when he heard someone yell and saw his friend, Germaine Holder, collapse onto a bench.

"I immediately ran over and saw something red dripping, gushing, actually, and saw there was a wound to his abdomen," Miller recounted to his lawyer, Jason Bogle. "I took off my T-shirt and applied pressure."

As Miller pushed down on the wound, he called 911, recalling how he felt scared but tried to remain calm for his friend. But he said his fear intensified when he spotted the first officer on the scene, Const. Jason Sandilands.

Miller testified he and others from the complex, including Holder, have long had a "negative" relationship with Sandilands, who he said routinely harassed them by asking for identification for no apparent reason. Miller said he had even lodged a complaint against the officer but it didn't go anywhere.

As his friend lay bleeding beneath him, Miller said he called over to Sandilands to come and help, but the officer was just "standing there, doing absolutely nothing."

Moments later, Garrett Mannings, 24, who is paralyzed from the waist down, joined the small group of people forming near the victim.

Mannings, along with some of the other building residents, yelled at Sandilands to do something, but the officer simply replied, "Oh well, if he dies, he dies," Miller testified.

"Sandilands took a step behind Mannings, took his shoulders and threw him to the floor," Miller said, calling it an "aggressive" move. The two men struggled on the floor just metres from where Miller was with Holder.

Moments later a second officer arrived to help Sandilands. They "dragged" Mannings to a cruiser and returned to collect his wheelchair, said Miller, who watched the events unfold as he continued to be the only one tending to Holder, who lay bleeding.

Suddenly, Miller said, he "felt someone very strong grab my arm that was on the wound and pull my legs." Seconds later, he said, he was carted off to a cruiser by a third officer.

He said he sat in the car and watched Holder continue to bleed. No one else touched him until the paramedics arrived on the scene about two minutes later, he said.

Court has already heard testimony from the arresting officers. Sandilands testified he gently tipped over Mannings' wheelchair because the accused was swearing and flailing his arms.

Another officer testified Miller was arrested because he was yelling in the officer's face.

Crown attorney Darilynn Allison has finished her case, but the defence might call Mannings to the stand.

If found guilty of causing a disturbance, Mannings and Miller could face up to six months in jail.

The trial is scheduled to resume Monday at the courthouse in Brampton.

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