A New Westminster police officer convicted of assaulting a newspaper carrier in a drunken attack with two other off-duty officers avoided a jail sentence in B.C. Provincial Court in Vancouver on Friday.
Const. Jeffrey Klassen, 40, who was convicted this spring of assaulting Firoz Khan, 49, outside a downtown hotel in the early hours of Jan. 21, 2009, was granted a conditional discharge and a year's probation.
Klassen stood during sentencing with his legs apart and his hands behind his back and made no comment in court. Khan sat quietly in the public gallery with his wife during the sentencing and showed no reaction.
Outside court, Khan said, "I just want to leave everything behind and just focus ahead. We have a justice system and we trust in it and we will just go with the flow."
Khan earlier this year filed a civil suit against the officer, who has been suspended without pay and also faces a disciplinary hearing with the New Westminster Police Service. It has yet to be heard in court.
Crown Prosecutor Ellen Leno had asked the court to jail the officer for one to two months. Klassen's lawyer, Dwight Stewart, had argued for an absolute discharge.
Klassen was also ordered to do 100 hours of community service.
Judge Jody Werier said he might find it "onerous" to complete that service if he finds full-time work, but she added, "that is my intention."
The judge said a conditional discharge would act as a sufficient denunciation of the crime and deterrence for Klassen and other officers.
She noted the assault wasn't malicious, as Klassen was drunk and acting under the mistaken belief that his friend was being assaulted.
"He made an acutely inappropriate decision to intervene," she said, calling the assault isolated and not premeditated.
She also said Klassen had no record, had endured death threats during the trial and threats against him in public since the assault, has suffered financial consequences, intense media attention and was forced to move from his apartment, all of which has had an effect on his visits with his young children from his failed marriage.
She also noted he has entered into counselling and treatment and had apologized to his victim in court, during which he took frequent breaks to control his emotions.
"I believe Mr. Klassen made a sincere and heartfelt apology," she said.
The night of the assault, Klassen and two other off-duty officers, West Vancouver police Const. Griffin Gillan and Delta police Const. Blair Tanino, had been bar-hopping all evening and Gillan ended up at the Hyatt Hotel, where he assaulted Khan in an unprovoked attack.
Klassen and Tanino arrived in a cab after Gillan called to them for help and an intoxicated Klassen also assaulted Khan, who suffered a concussion, chipped tooth and bruising, and hasn't been able to return to work.
Gillan was given a conditional sentence after pleading guilty in July 2009. Tanino wasn't charged.