Diabetic man testifies he was yelling for food when Toronto cop kicked him
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A man allegedly assaulted by a Toronto police constable while in custody testified Tuesday that he was yelling for a sandwich to control his diabetes when the officer approached his cell and booted him in the face.
“The symptoms were coming on, I was shaking . . . he said ‘Shut up,’” said Lenard Romanovitch, 63, who alleges that he suffered a fractured facial bone during the encounter in a 51 Division prison cell on the night of Oct. 17, 2010.
Const. Mark Kennedy, charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm, pleaded not guilty on the first day of his trial at College Park provincial court Monday.
Romanovitch, a drug addict with more than 165 criminal convictions and a lengthy history of using aliases to try to escape conviction, was arrested in Toronto at around 10 p.m. that night on charges of break and enter and possession of property obtained by crime.
He was booked at the 51 Division station about an hour later.
Crown prosecutor Peter Scrutton showed Justice Diane Oleskiw a police video of Romanovitch arriving at the station and telling the booking sergeant on duty, Staff Sgt. Kevin Guest, that he had hepatitis C, pneumonia and diabetes.
He had not eaten all day, he said, and needed food.
In the video, the sergeant could be heard saying, “We’ll make sure you have something to eat” before sending him to be searched and taken to a cell for the night.
Guest, who also testified Tuesday, said he remembered the man telling him he had not eaten that day, but added that prisoners brought into the station after 11 p.m. are not usually fed.
Romanovitch, seen in another police video lying on the floor of his cell, said he had been kicking, banging and yelling for a sandwich before an officer arrived at his cell.
He said he was on the floor with his head toward the cell door when Kennedy approached hum, yelled at him to “shut up” and kicked him in the right side of the face.
But in a cross-examination, Kennedy’s lawyer Joanne Mulcahy questioned Romanovitch’s credibility as a witness: Could he, with a lengthy criminal record and a history of lying to police about his name, be trusted?
“You’ve used this criminal conviction (against Kennedy) to assist you . . . a way to get a lesser sentence (in recent crimes),” said Mulcahy.
Romanovitch blamed his criminal history on the “the addict in myself” and said he only lied and stole to support his drug habit. He remained adamant that he was kicked in the face that night.
“I remember blood was coming out,” he said.
The trial continues Wednesday.
Humans of Toronto