Police officer in Hamilton pleads guilty to assaulting Indigenous man during arrest


Published February 7, 2023 at 2:58 pm

Tensions in the Middle-East could reverberate in Hamilton, police say

Const. Brian Wren of the Hamilton Police (HPS) will likely be sentenced in four months after pleading guilty to assaulting Patrick Tomchuk, an Indigenous man, during an arrest last year.

Wren entered a guilty plea through a virtual court appearance on Monday (Feb. 6). He was charged after being one of a group of officers involved in the arrest of Tomchuk, who was grabbed, punched and kicked while being arrested in connection with a stolen vehicle investigation at a Mobil gas station in the Upper Sherman Ave. / Mohawk Rd. E. area on the evening of May 26, 2022. Multiple media reports indicated that Tomchuk did not regain consciousness until the following day. A nearly minute-long video taken by a witness drew widespread attention to the use of force.

Wren turned himself in on the charges. Wren also said at the hearing that he self-identifies as Indigenous, which means a Gladue report will need to be prepared in conjunction with a pre-sentence report. Gladue principles instruct a court to consider the circumstances of an Indigenous person’s life prior to sentencing.

Tomchuk is facing a skein of charges related to the stolen vehicle investigation that led to his arrest. Those include counts of possession of property obtained by crime and driving while disqualified, as well as assault and resisting arrest.

Chief Frank Bergen of HPS has told the media that the use of force against Tomchuk was “disturbing and troubling.” Last fall, the Hamilton police services board added language to HPS’ use of force and prisoner handling policies.

Incidents of force were redefined as “physical force on another person that results in an injury requiring medical attention.”

Detailed data on the use of force by HPS is released to the public around July of each year.

The CBC reported that Wren had been an acting sergeant prior to his arrest. He was also on the Ontario Sunshine List in 2021, with a salary of just over $131,000.

The sunshine list discloses which public employees are paid at least $100,000. The threshold for the list has not changed since it was created in 1996. One hundred thousand dollars in 1996 was the equivalent of about $158,000 in ’21.

Anti-racism resources in Hamilton
Indian Residential School Survivors Society; 1-800-721-0066 (toll-free), 1-866-925-4419 (24-hour crisis line)
Hamilton Regional India Centre; hric.ca, 905-548-9593
Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre; harcc.ca
Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion; hcci.ca
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