Hamilton city police officer pleads guilty to assault of Indigenous man

HAMILTON –  A Hamilton Police sergeant pleaded guilty yesterday in court to assault charges stemming from the arrest of an Indigenous man.

A group of supporters attended the hearing wearing orange shirts in support of Tomchuk.

Court heard that in May 2022, an onlooker captured the arrest using a cell phone. That footage shows Brian Wren, who is an acting sergeant with Hamilton Police violently assaulting Patrick Tomchuk.

At the time of the arrest, Wren was part of a plain-clothes police unit targeting ‘street’ crimes. This team was assisting with Project Grizzly, an investigation focussing on vehicle theft.

Wren’s lawyer, Richard Garwood-Jones stated in court that Wren had identified Tomchuk’s 2007 Ford F350 pick-up as a stolen vehicle the night before the violent assault and arrest occurred.

On the  night of the attack, Tomchuk pulled up to a gas station on the Hamilton mountain. As he stood pumping gas into his truck, unmarked vehicles flood the scene and plain-clothes officers crowd around him.

Footage was presented in court that shows Tomchuk grasping the truck and the gas pump hose as police officers force him to the pavement.

The footage shows Tomchuk enduring multiple stomps and kicks in the head by Wren.

Ontario Court of Justice Bruce Pugsley heard that police who reviewed the video observed Wren kick the back of Tomchuk’s head about nine times, and then kick the front of his head four times in the face before stepping on Tomchuk’s head.

The footage also shows Tomchuk falling unconscious and blood coming out of his right ear.

Police officers reportedly gave him first aid at this point. Tomchuk was then brought to hospital, assessed, and brought to the police station.

Wren’s lawyer, Bernard Cummins argued in court that Justice Pugsley should look at comments from police, Tomchuk and the woman who caught the assault on her cell phone as subjective views of the incident.

Cummins reported to the media yesterday that Wren is claiming Indigenous heritage, a detail which had not been reported anywhere in the media previous to yesterday’s court case. The court heard that lawyers will prepare a pre-sentence report and a Gladue report in response to this new development in the case.

Gladue principles call for the consideration of an Indiegenous persons’ lived experience when the court  determines sentencing.

Add Your Voice

Is there more to this story? We'd like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Contribute your voice on our contribute page.