Accused of slapping a horse at Homecoming to face new charges

Likelihood of criminal record minimal, but still a possibility

Kingston Police on a the evening of a previous Homecoming
Credit: 
Journal file photo

Caught on a video that would later go viral across social media, the young woman who slapped a police horse on Queen’s Homecoming — as well as the two young men arrested for the same offense that day  — will now have their charges altered to mischief and obstruction of police. 

“What will happen with all three accused, in this case the two men and the 18-year-old female, is that charge will be withdrawn and we will be going with the charges of mischief and obstruct police by interfering with a lawful execution of their duty,” Kingston Police Const. Koopman explained to The Journal. 

The video went viral after Queen’s Homecoming this year on Oct. 15, where three instances of the same incident occurred within an hour. Media outlets like Vice and CBC reported on the incident, referencing a recent amendment to the Canadian criminal code that could have seen the accused spend up to five years in jail.

‘Quanto’s Law’ was created after the fatal stabbing of an Edmonton police dog in 2013, and enacted in July 2015. The law states that anyone convicted of killing a police animal could face up to five years in prison and anyone convicted of injuring a police animal can be sentenced to up to 18 months in jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines.

Bill C-35 (Historical) | openparliament.ca

I note that the bill defines each of these terms. A law enforcement animal is defined as a dog or a horse trained to aid a law enforcement officer in carrying out that officer's duties.

However, the initial charges of harm to a police animal have since been altered for the male Algonquin student, Coburg resident and female Queen’s student. 

The change was made once it became clear that the horse — a new member of the KP team, named Murney — was not injured through the three incidents. 

The rider atop Murney that day was experienced, Koopman explained, noting that “we always put the more experienced rider with the less experienced horse”.  

He confirmed that officers had seen the video that circulated online, “and we can confirm that we obviously do believe that is the 18-year-old female accused in relation to our investigation.” 

“She came up and appears to have slapped the hindquarters of [Murney],” he said. 

The woman in the video was initially told that she would be charged later, as officers were in the middle of Homecoming measures but were also aware of the new Quanto’s Law legislation. 

With the original charges dropped and new ones made, Koopman explained that the three accused can still receive any combination of jail time and fines, as well as potential probation.

“There is the potential that they could be found guilty and technically have a criminal record,” Koopman said. “There’s also the alternative to either be found not guilty, to having something like a conditional or suspended sentence. So long as they abide by some temporary conditions they wouldn’t receive a criminal record at the end of the process.” 

This year wasn’t the first Homecoming to involve police horses, he said. In past, the Toronto Mounted Police Unit has joined Kingston forces. However, it was the first to prompt this sort of activity. 

“Over at least the last 10 to 11 years, where we had that concern for Queen’s Homecoming, this has been the first time in a number of years where anything in relation to the horse has come up,” Koopman said. 

“We’re not sure where the lack of common sense is. You should never come up and strike any animal, especially a police trained one that has a rider on top of it.” 

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