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Police officer faces disciplinary hearing over probe into alleged hate crime

A Hamilton police officer faces a disciplinary hearing for allegedly failing to conduct “a thorough and professional” investigation into an assault against a black man who says the attack was “a hate crime.” Constable Jaimi Bannon pleaded not guilty on Monday to a neglect-of-duty charge stemming from a complaint about her conduct to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services after Hamilton police cleared her of any wrongdoing.

The case is adjourned until June 16, when parties to the hearing will hold a conference call on how to proceed.

Complainant Robert Junor said afterwards the charge stems from a September 2009 assault by a motorist who called him a racial epithet, spat gum in his face and threatened to beat him up for stopping his truck to pick up his sister-in-law in the downtown core.

He said police initially refused to charge the man even though he admitted his behaviour, instead telling Junor he could call a justice of the peace to lay private charges if he wanted to pursue the matter.

After obtaining the officer’s incident report, Junor said he convinced police to investigate further and the man was charged last year, leading to a guilty plea and 90-day sentence in February of this year.

But he said a complaint about the initial probe to the Hamilton police professional standards branch went nowhere, forcing him to appeal to the provincial complaints commission.

It found reasonable grounds for a neglectof- duty charge and is acting as prosecutor for the disciplinary hearing before Waterloo regional police Superintendent Robert Gould.

Junor, 44, said he felt compelled to pursue his complaint because in his view it exposes a systemic problem with the Hamilton police force.

Failure to properly investigate was at the heart of a complaint of another black man, Michael Dixon, wrongfully arrested and jailed during an August 2003 blackout for a jewelry robbery even though the suspects were described as white.

Police eventually apologized.

Justice is served “They should be ashamed that this has come to this point,” Junor said of his case. “There’s no reason that any citizen should have to fight the way I have to fight just to make sure that justice is served.”

Disciplinary hearings involving two other officers were stayed on Monday pending completion of criminal proceedings in the courts.

Const. Douglas McKee faces six discreditable conduct charges for allegedly stealing patio stones from a residential construction site last October while on duty, transporting them home in a police vehicle and then lying to criminal investigators.

Const. Douglas Sephton faces nine charges for alleged misconduct over a fourmonth period last year, including driving drunk, failing to report a motor vehicle accident, deceit and making a false 911 call.

The eight-year veteran is also accused of being unfit to work for a shift last August because of alcohol consumption, lying to investigators about the accident and his drinking, and posting inappropriate comments on his Facebook page.

His drunk-driving charge is still before the court.

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