Even though ex-Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum’s memory of a parking lot argument with an angry citizen wasn’t crystal clear, his lead defence lawyer said Nov. 8 that he was co-operative with police when he complained about the alleged hit and run.
In closing arguments at McCallum’s public mischief trial in Surrey Provincial Court, Richard Peck said his client urged police to obtain surveillance footage, volunteered to provide his medical records, allowed his foot to be photographed by a police officer and gave up his shoes on request.
“Is this how someone acts who is fabricating this? Get the video, I’ll help in any way I can, here’s my records — none of that supports that interpretation,” Peck told Judge Reginald Harris.
McCallum accused Keep the RCMP in Surrey’s Debi Johnstone of running over his foot in the Southpoint Save-On-Foods parking lot on Sept. 4, 2021 after she unleashed a barrage of profanity at him and told him to resign. RCMP instead investigated McCallum for lying about the incident. McCallum was eventually charged with public mischief and pleaded not guilty when his trial began Oct. 31. He did not testify.
“If we’re making all this up, it’s very well-scripted,” Peck quipped.
RCMP officer Sgt. Andre Johnny testified Nov. 1 that investigators could not determine whether McCallum’s foot was run over because vegetation obscured a surveillance camera’s view of his lower leg and Johnstone’s rear wheel. But the video evidence contradicted McCallum’s claims that Johnstone pinned him to the vehicle and then sped away. McCallum casually walked away from the scene and later went shopping at the grocery store. He eventually filing a police complaint and visited the Peace Arch Hospital emergency room where a doctor found he had a contusion on his left foot but no visible swelling.
Nonetheless, Peck said the defence’s expert medical and engineering witnesses told the court that it was possible McCallum was run over without suffering any broken bones after Johnstone “targeted and stalked” his client.
“This, for him, McCallum, was a frightening, disturbing event and there is no doubt that such events could lead to misperception,” Peck said.
Peck called McCallum a dedicated public servant who weathered his fair share of typical and expected criticism during his time in office, which ended Monday when Brenda Locke was sworn-in as Surrey’s new mayor. However, Peck said that during his last term, McCallum faced aggressive opposition from a group vehemently against his program to replace the RCMP with a new municipal police force. Keep the RCMP in Surrey members protested at council meetings, public events and even outside his home. Peck called it “toxic fanaticism.”
“What is not to be expected, and sadly seems to have taken a flow in North America, is that a small subset of the population can respond to government initiatives that they disagree with in an aggressive and, in my respectful submission, democratically negative way,” Peck said.
Harris interrupted Peck near the end of his presentation with a pointed question about McCallum’s behaviour in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
“In this case, it would strike me if someone is going to fabricate that they’ve been run over on the foot, and you’re approaching the very investigator, wouldn’t you expect a feigned limp?” Harris asked. “So the absence of a feigned limp, is that something I can consider? If I’m going to the police and I want them to believe ‘Hey, I was run over,’ wouldn’t it make sense that I would be pretending to be limping and injured?”
Replied Peck: “That’s a reasonable anticipation or expectation in my view. As a piece of evidence, I think it can go into the mix.”
“The absence of it, to me, is somewhat striking,” Harris said.
Harris also asked whether the police were investigating harassment in addition to the driving incident. Peck said that Johnny was emphatic in his cross-examination that they didn’t investigate harassment.
“That’s what I thought, as well,” Harris said.
Closing arguments continue.
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