Trial begins for Halifax police officer accused of assaulting man at homeless shelter

The trial of a Halifax Regional Police (HRP) officer who’s accused of assaulting a man at a homeless shelter and falsifying information in police reports in an attempt to cover it up, began on Monday.

Const. Laurence Gary Basso, who has been suspended without pay, appeared in court as the trial kicked off at Halifax Provincial Court.

Nova Scotia’s police watchdog laid the charges against Basso on April 13, alleging that the officer, a 14-year veteran of HRP, assaulted a 54-year-old man as he attempted to arrest him at the Metro Turning Point shelter on Barrington Street on Feb. 25.

The Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) says that the 54-year-old man needed medical attention as a result of the alleged assault.

Basso also faces charges of public mischief and breach of trust stemming from the incident.

Court documents allege that between Feb. 25 and March 3, Basso wrote false information in police reports and falsified notes in order to divert suspicion from himself while police investigated the incident at the shelter.

On Monday, court was shown a 17-minute video which was recorded in the parking lot of the shelter.

The video, which had no audio, shows the interactions between Basso and the alleged victim — who is not expected to appear in court on Monday.

According to court testimony from Sgt. Gordon Vail, SIRT’s lead investigator, the 54-year-old man regularly stays at the Metro Turning Point shelter and suffers from alcohol addiction.

The court was also shown photos of the man after the alleged assault, focusing on his face and left eye. The man was initially charged with assaulting a police officer although that charge was eventually dropped.

The trial is scheduled to continue on Tuesday while Dec. 5 and Dec. 6 have also been set aside for the trial.

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