Three people who served Const. Brett Henry the night he is accused of driving impaired gave their version of events on day two of the trial
Servers and bartenders, as well as a fellow bar patron, took to the witness stand Friday to give their take on what Const. Brett Henry was saying and doing on March 2 and 3, 2017, before he allegedly drove impaired.
Henry, a Prince Albert police officer, has been charged with impaired driving. Friday was the second day of his trial, as Crown prosecutor Bill Burge continued building his case against Henry, using eyewitness testimony to attempt to paint a picture of a man who had consumed alcohol and was showing signs of impairment.
The daylong court session started with Clayton Mullis, a former server at the Rock and Iron Sports Bar, who served Henry’s table the night in question.
Mullis said he now works at Montana’s. He said that night there was a gathering of about 25 people from the police service. He said he didn’t know Henry personally, but had “seen him around” and knew he was a cop.
Mullis testified that he served Henry four 32-ounce schooners of Rickard’s Red.
Mullis said there were two people at the table who appeared to be showing signs of intoxication. He identified one of them as Henry.
“I guess you could say he was under the influence,” Mullis told the court.
He said he’s served thousands of drinks to thousands of people, and he’s learned to tell when someone is getting intoxicated. He said Henry was becoming “obnoxious.” He said Henry wasn’t obnoxious at the beginning of the night.
Mullis was convinced Henry had no business driving.
“He shouldn’t have been doing it,” Mullis said, pointing out that four schooners, at 32 ounces each, is equivalent to about 10 bottles of beer.
Mullis also said he was under the impression everyone had rides – some had designated drivers, while others were being picked up by wives and girlfriends. He didn’t see how Henry left the bar’s property.
Defence lawyer Michael Owens was quick to point out that some people are loud by nature, or are the life of the party. He asked Mullis whether he knew whether these characteristics he observed in Henry were normal or not. Mullis didn’t know.
Then, Owens turned to Mullis’ observation that Henry was impaired.
Mullis answered that he knows if someone drinks 10 beers they’ll be over the legal limit to drive.
“Do you see a difference between the legal limit and impairment?” Owens asked. Mullis was unsure.
Henry, for the second consecutive day, sat in the front row of the public gallery during the trial, dressed in a suit, scribbling notes into a notepad. With every cross examination, Henry and Owens would take a five minute break outside to meet. During the trial, the pair did occasionally confer, with the two going over Henry’s notes.
After a brief witness appearance from Matthew Sawatzky, the Rock and Iron manager who served to verify the authenticity of the video surveillance and confirm the placement of the cameras, Burge turned his attention to Henry’s stop at OJ’s.
His first witness from OJ’s was a former conservation officer who had a brief interaction with the accused at the bar.
Christopher Gaudet was celebrating his birthday the night of March 2, 2017. He was on days off from his job working as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan’s north.
He was friends with one of Henry’s acquaintances at the bar.
When Henry and the other police officer arrived, Gaudet came over to say hello to his friend.
Henry immediately made an obscene comment about the size of Gaudet’s nose, later apologizing and indicating he was just joking around.
After a brief conversation, Gaudet went back to his table.
Later, as Gaudet was leaving the bar, he saw Henry in the bar’s foyer, between the external and internal doors. He asked Henry whether he lived in town and whether he needed a ride, as Gaudet had a designated driver.
According to Gaudet, Henry declined, and indicated he was getting a taxi.
Gaudet said Henry smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech, and was leaning up against the wall and swaying a little bit.
“The appeared to me he could have been intoxicated,” said Gaudet, who admitted to being buzzed, but not drunk.
On his cross-examination, Owens got Gaudet to admit that the behaviour, speaking pattern and posture could have been normal for Henry, as he had no baseline to judge against.
Next to take the stand was Briianne Larson.
Larson was the OJ’s waitress that night serving Henry’s table. She’s also the person who reported a potential impaired driver to the police that night.
Larson said three people came in and sat at table 52, in her section near the bar.
She testified that she served Henry an old fashioned seven times. An old fashioned is a drink with two shots of whiskey.
She also testified that he didn’t get any water, or have any other drinks that night.
Larson said as the night went on, Henry began to get giddy, slurring his speech slightly and making unusual comments and jokes. He began to have trouble seeing his phone screen, she said, indicating she saw him squinting at his device with only one eye open. He also knocked over an empty glass and didn’t seem to notice, she said.
“I could tell he was intoxicated by the end of the night,” she said.
Larson said she was stumbling, holding one eye open and, in the foyer, leaning against the wall. She said he wasn’t intoxicated when he arrived. If he had been, she said, he wouldn’t have been served any alcohol.
The way he was speaking and behaving wasn’t the same as when he came in.
Larson said she offered to call Henry a taxi more than once.
“I knew he shouldn’t be operating a motor vehicle. That’s why I offered him a cab,” she said.
The last time Larson offered to call a taxi, Henry was in the foyer. He agreed to getting a cab home. Larson went to the back. When she returned, Henry was no longer in the foyer.
“I saw him sitting in the diver’s seat of his car,” she said. “The vehicle was on. There were lights on. The vehicle was running.”
Then, she saw her coworker, whom she referred to as Kam, go outside and speak to Henry. When Kam came back, Henry was still in the driver’s seat.
“We did all we could to prevent this from happening,” Larson said.
After Kam confronted Henry, Larson returned to the back to continue closing the restaurant. When she returned, the car was gone. She didn’t see it drive away, but Kam had. They decided to call 9-1-1. Larson made the call.
Like with the witnesses before her, Owens questioned what made Larson think Henry was impaired. He confirmed Henry did not spill, and he confirmed that other people, including Larson, who was sober, occasionally lean on objects.
He put other theories forward, including the fact that Henry could have been squinting at small text or an image on his phone. He also put to her that “just because someone consumes liquor doesn’t mean they’re intoxicated,” questioning Larson using her own words that different people handle liquor differently. Owens suggested the comments were just Henry’s sense of humour. She confirmed she didn’t know him prior to the evening.
Owens also implied to Larson that she only called the police as a “better safe than sorry” measure.
“I wouldn’t have called the police if I didn’t think it wasn’t safe,” she said.
Kam was the last witness of the day. He identified himself to the court as Kamandeep Singh, the bartender working that evening.
According to Singh, the drink consumed by Henry wasn’t an Old Fashioned. Instead, he said, it was a Godfather, a drink consisting of two shots, one of whiskey and one of amaretto. The reason it said “old fashioned” on the bar tab and receipt, he explained, is the drink doesn’t exist in their till, but costs the same, so servers put them in as old fashioned and leave a note for the bartender to make a godfather instead.
Amaretto, Singh said, has a lesser alcohol content than whiskey.
Singh admitted he couldn’t remember much of that night. But he did remember one part of it clearly enough to testify.
Singh said Henry’s eyes weren’t fully open, and that Larson had to assist the man at the table with finding his wallet inside his coat.
Singh wasn’t able to identify the man at the table as Henry, the man in the courtroom, as he wasn’t able to remember the face. Larson had previously identified the man as Henry.
Singh said the man was having trouble walking.
“It was not a normal walk,” he said, “It was like a little bit dizzy, swinging back and forth.”
Beyond mixing the man’s drink, Singh said he only had a small interaction with him at the end of the night. Singh said he walked out to the car and implored the man not to drive. The man said he was calling his friend.
“I went outside and tried to stop him,” Singh said.
Singh testified the headlights were on, but he did not know if the engine was running. Within five minutes, Singh said, the car was driving away. In a cross examination, He didn’t see it deviate from its path or show any indications of being operated by someone impaired.
Still, Singh said, “I don’t think he was able to drive. He was drunk.”
Singh also said he couldn’t remember if Henry was leaning on anything when he was standing in the foyer of the bar. He also doesn’t remember if Henry had any pop or water to drink. He said the passage of time has rendered his memory fuzzy.
Singh, though, also admitted he had a brief conversation about the case with a pair of other witnesses. He said the conversation was limited to asking if it was the same guy he saw in the bar that night. The other witnesses, including Larson, Singh said, confirmed it was. They declined to speak further about the case.
The trial is set to continue next Friday, May 4at 9:30 a.m. The Crown has another five to seven witnesses to call, including an expert witness. The case will then continue on June 25.