It was good to read news reports this week, that some flimsy but serious charges against two Calgary area brothers involving their tractor and the sheriffs at a highway check stop have been dropped.
The Alberta Crown has withdrawn charges against Jeremia Leussink, 19, who was driving his tractor to do some haying in a field near Didsbury, north of Calgary on July 31. Jeremia got stopped and apparently was roughed up by provincial sheriffs operating a highway check stop.
Video footage from the episode showed him being pulled by sheriffs out of the tractor cab as they demanded he take a breathalyzer test. Some time later his 21-year-old brother, Dominic Leussink, showed up and got involved in the dispute.
Jeremia Leussink was charged with several offences, including resisting arrest and failing to take a breathalyzer. Dominic Leussink, was charged with obstructing a police officer and causing a disturbance.
But this week their Calgary lawyer Tonii Roulston told The Canadian Press “Their charges were withdrawn,” she said. “I think after the Crown did a proper assessment of the case with the respect to a reasonable likelihood of conviction and, not to speak for him, but how perhaps the interaction with police was handled.”
She said the two brothers are relieved.
One “concerned citizen” who appears to be familiar with the Leussink family and the case had earlier sent me this report of what happened that day.
” I am glad someone in the media reported this incident, but more needs to be said. There should have been a temporary sign beside the road reading, “All Vehicles Stop Ahead”. Jeremiah would have obeyed the sign and pulled his tractor into the line of stopped vehicles if he had known he was required to stop.
Jeremiah drove the tractor into a farm field not knowing he was breaking the law. A deputy followed the tractor off the road and told Jeremiah to return the tractor to the vehicle checkpoint. Jeremiah obeyed and parked at the checkpoint. He was not in any way resisting arrest.
Jeremiah would have gladly gotten off the parked tractor if he had been asked to. He had been on the tractor for 16 hours solid without a break and the only food in him was breakfast. He was too weak and tired to resist arrest, especially when he was one small guy looking at five big husky armed men. He was a 18 year old non drinker and home schooled and did not know what a breathalyzer test was. “
Jeremiah was charged with resisting arresting arrest and refusal to take a breathalyzer test. The deputies lose all credibility with these ridiculous impossible charges. Jeremiah resisted arrest like a nail resists a hammer. A non drinker does not resist a breathalyzer test when he knows that test will prove his innocence.” A Concerned Citizen.
The writer also points out that towing and impounding the tractor that day also caused serious damage to the tractor transmission, as that tractor is not meant to be towed. And there is also a matter of about $100,000 in damage to a hay crop that got rained on because it didn’t get baled when it should have been.
So as was pointed out in yesterday’s news report, the charges were dropped but several legal matters still need to be dealt with.
Because Jeremia Leussink was charged with failing to take a breathalyzer, his learner’s licence was automatically suspended, said his lawyer.
Even though the impaired driving charge was withdrawn (failing to take a breathalyzer) the automatic 15 month licence suspension remains in effect. That licence suspension is likely to be appealed.
And as far as tractor damage goes, Canadian Press also reported another law firm will be in civil court trying to recoup costs for a $300 impound charge for the tractor, as well as for damages to the $300,000-machine when it was towed.
Lee Hart is a field editor with Grainews based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]