PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – A Saskatchewan police officer accused of impaired driving has told court he’d consumed five schooners and seven mixed drinks containing scotch and amaretto at two different bars, but says he wasn’t impaired.
Const. Brett Lee Henry of the Prince Albert Police Service has pleaded not guity and was adamant he was under the legal limit on the night of March 2, 2017 and into the morning of March 3.
The trial, which started in April, has already heard evidence from witnesses who say the 14-year veteran showed signs of impairment including an odour of alcohol, slurred speech and trouble walking.
Henry told court that sports injuries from hockey and racquetball can make him appear unsteady on his feet.
He testified he drove to a third bar and swallowed four prescription anxiety pills in his car on the way, but that he took a taxi home.
He called in sick to work a little after 3 a.m., and the staff sergeant who took the call testified Henry sounded “tired and intoxicated.”
Henry was alerted that he was being investigated for impaired driving the next morning and was charged last July. He has been on administrative duties since then.
On the night of the alleged incident, Henry testified he had talked with a superior officer about mental health amongst officers and PTSD, and was in a heightened state of anxiety as the night wore on.
Henry said he had been struggling with anxiety and depression from the stress of his job, specifically the death of another officer in a vehicle rollover several years ago. Henry said he was seeing a counsellor and had used about 60 sick days while seeking help.
“My concern was the way we never dealt with mental health issues in the Prince Albert Police Service,” Henry said in court.
Henry testified he phoned another officer early in the night hoping to find someone to talk with. That officer, Const. Darcy Bear, told the court he picked Henry up outside the Gas Tavern, a local bar, and Henry spent about 10 minutes crying in the vehicle before asking to be taken back to the bar.
Bear said Henry smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet.
Henry said he felt the medication hitting him while he was at the Gas Tavern and called a cab, leaving his car in the parking lot.
Henry said he became talkative and emotional and started to squint his eyes as the evening wore on. He also said he also ate a burger, fries, and some wings during the evening, and drank at least 10 glasses of water.