An Edmonton Police Service officer has been acquitted of assaulting his fiancée but convicted of improperly storing a police-issue firearm in his home.
Provincial court Judge Peter Ayotte on Friday fined Const. Hunter Robinz $1,000 for the firearms offence, finding he kept an EPS carbine in his bedroom closet beside two clips of live ammunition, despite being on desk duty and having no authorization to keep the high-powered firearm.
Parkland County RCMP seized the weapon after Robinz’s then-fiancée, M.M., reported him for assault.
The woman, who Postmedia is identifying by her initials, claimed Robinz grabbed her by the throat during an argument. Robinz, on the other hand, claimed M.M. started the fight.
Ayotte had trouble believing both M.M. and Robinz, forcing him to acquit.
“Despite my suspicions, given the frailties in both of their evidence, I am left with a reasonable doubt,” Ayotte wrote. “The law requires that I give (the accused) the benefit of that doubt. I do so and find him not guilty of assault.”
Accused was on desk duty, ordered to surrender pistol
M.M. and Robinz lived together in a home in Stony Plain, which he purchased with her financial help.
At the time of his arrest, he was confined to desk duty pending an internal investigation in another case and had been ordered to clean out his locker and surrender his service pistol.
Nevertheless, Robinz had taken home a police-issue C8 carbine, which police later found in his closet.
According to Ayotte’s written decision, M.M. and Robinz had an argument on March 12, 2021. She claimed that after an evening of drinking, Robinz found text messages on her phone which he believed showed she was cheating. M.M. said Robinz pushed her down on the bed and grabbed her throat, and that after she told him to stop, Robinz left the room.
Robinz, on the other hand, said M.M. came home drunk, which led to an argument about how much she was spending on alcohol. Robinz later noticed some “inappropriate” texts on M.M.’s phone, and claims she jumped on his back and hit him until he pulled her off and grabbed her by the back of the neck.
The next day, when Robinz was at work, M.M. went to the Parkland County RCMP detachment at a friend’s urging. The constable who interviewed her said M.M. was slurring her speech but believed she was competent to make a statement.
While completing a family violence investigation report, M.M. told the constable Robinz had an EPS carbine in a closet which he kept unlocked. M.M. also said Robinz had PTSD and that his behaviour was “unpredictable.”
RCMP contacted Edmonton police, who did not know where Robinz was. Eventually, believing the normal process to obtain a warrant would take too long, an RCMP sergeant opted to enter the house and seize the weapon. The sergeant relied on section 117 of the Criminal Code, which allows officers to seize a firearm in “situations where the potential for violence is real,” Ayotte wrote.
Officers ultimately entered the home and found the carbine in an unlocked case on the floor of Robinz’s closet, with two clips of live ammo and an empty pistol clip.
Defence lawyer Ajay Juneja argued the search violated Robinz’s Section 8 charter rights against unreasonable search and seizure. He said M.M. could not legally give police permission to open Robinz’s closet, and that the urgency required by section 117 was not there.
Ayotte, however, sided with Crown lawyers Photini Papadatou and Geea Atanase, concluding police were allowed to proceed as they did.
The judge also rejected Robinz’s claims he intended to return the weapon to EPS, and that M.M. had stored the firearm that way simply “to get him into trouble.”
As for the assault allegation, Ayotte found problems with both stories, noting M.M. said “I don’t remember what I did” when cross-examined about the confrontation with Robinz.
The $1,000 fine was half that sought by the Crown, while the defence asked for a conditional discharge, which would have left Robinz without a criminal record.
Robinz will now begin the internal police disciplinary process, EPS spokeswoman Cheryl Sheppard said in an email. He is currently suspended without pay.
Robinz is scheduled to face a separate trial next year on charges of sexual assault, breach of trust and unauthorized access to a computer network.
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