The altercation involved Jamie Murphy, the 39-year-old deputy mayor of Parker’s Cove on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula, and Const. Mike Janes, the RCMP officer known by some in the region as “Supercop.”
The details of the case are laid out in a decision issued this week by provincial court Judge Harold Porter.
It happened April 13. Janes was patrolling on Route 210 through Marystown when he saw a pickup truck parked in the crosswalk at the entrance to the department store.
Janes turned his police cruiser into the parking lot and pulled up behind the truck. He turned on his emergency lights and motioned to the driver to move the vehicle.
The truck moved down the lot and stopped near a corral for shopping carts. Janes followed.
Murphy, the driver of the truck, then got out and approached the police car.
The two engaged in discussion over whether he had been parked in the crosswalk.
Murphy told the officer he was dropping someone off at the store entrance.
Janes told him to go back to the truck to get his licence, insurance and registration documents.
According to the RCMP officer, Murphy declined, calling the officer a "prick" and an "asshole" and adding, “F--k you.”
In court, Murphy disputed this, testifying that he had simply asked the officer his name, and in fact called him a “f---king moron.”
Janes told Murphy he was under arrest, and told him to put his arms behind his back. Murphy said “no way” and walked back toward his truck.
Janes then shoved him up against the truck, but was unable to restrain Murphy — a heavy equipment operator who weighs more than 300 pounds — by himself.
A struggle ensued, and an off-duty police officer who happened to be in area assisted Janes in putting Murphy into his cruiser.
In his testimony, Murphy said he was “astonished” to hear the police officer was going to arrest him for stopping to let his wife and daughter out at the entrance to the Wal-Mart store.
“I’ve heard stories about him, and everybody else can’t be wrong,” he said, when asked to explain why he had cursed at Janes.
Murphy was charged with parking in a crosswalk, causing a disturbance and resisting arrest.
Provincial court Judge Harold Porter acquitted Murphy on all three charges.
“Stopping temporarily to let passengers disembark is not ‘parking,’ as that word is defined by the Highway Traffic Act,” Porter noted in his decision.
“Drivers are required to yield to pedestrian traffic in crosswalks.”
The judge said there is no power of arrest in the Highway Traffic Act, and swearing at a police officer, without doing more, is not a crime.
“Const. Janes was without lawful authority to lay his hand on the accused,” Porter wrote.
“Since Const. Janes had no right to touch the accused, the accused was within his rights to use reasonable force to repel the application of force against him by Const. Janes.”
‘Supercop’ in news before
Janes has been a divisive figure in the past, both lauded and criticized for his strict application of the law.
He arrived in 2008 on the Burin Peninsula and was later nicknamed “Supercop” by local residents.
“People aren't as used to this sort of enforcement,” Janes told CBC News in 2011.
“They're used to being able to get a break. But my position is, and our position in traffic services is, to make the roads as safe as possible, and people need to be held accountable.”
Janes again made news earlier this year, when he seized the ATV of a woman with muscular dystrophy who was travelling along a road in St. Lawrence.
The officer’s work has also garnered more positive recognition.
In 2012, Janes won the National Police Award for Traffic Safety for helping reduce the number of traffic accidents in his patrol area.
He was recognized for his strategy of organized checkpoints, a wide-array of enforcement activities, and public education and awareness of traffic safety.
Janes is no longer on the Burin Peninsula.
He is now working out of the RCMP's Clarenville detachment.