RCMP officers who conducted the surveillance and arrest of Curtis Sagmoen in September 2017 are making the case that they did so on solid grounds.
The Sagmoen trial continued in B.C Supreme Court Tuesday, Dec. 10, as defence lawyer Lisa Helps continued to call into question whether the warrant used to arrest Sagmoen was valid.
Sagmoen faces multiple charges related to an incident in August 2017, in which he is accused of having threatened a sex trade worker near his family’s Salmon River Road property with a firearm while wearing a mask.
A total of five RCMP officers involved with the investigation and arrest of Sagmoen are scheduled to testify during the current voir dire — a trial within a trial — at the Vernon Law Courts. In the morning, the court heard the witness accounts of Const. James Scott and Sgt. David Evans, who were involved in the surveillance of Sagmoen’s property and the execution of his arrest.
Both Const. Scott and Sgt. Evans testified that they recognized a photo of the accused from a picture printed in the Salmon Arm Observer in May 2017. The photo had been used by police for identification purposes, as none of the officers involved had previously seen or dealt with him. The picture shows Sagmoen wearing sunglasses and using an old hot tub as a watercraft to help move sandbags after a flood in Silver Creek — 15 kilometres south of Salmon Arm.
Sgt. Evans ultimately refuted the defence counsel’s challenge that the arrest warrant was invalid.
He recounted a meeting prior to Sagmoen’s arrest in which fellow officers explained to him why Sagmoen was considered the main suspect the August 2017 incident involving a sex trade worker who was called to a location near Sagmoen’s property. She was allegedly threatened with a firearm, had her car tire shot out and was forced to flee barefoot down the road.
Sgt. Evans mentioned some of the factors amounted to reasonable grounds, including the fact a neighbour reported incidents that took place on the property and involved Sagmoen meeting with escorts; Sagmoen’s property was where the offence took place; and Sagmoen met the “general description” the victim had described to police.
“When those grounds were explained to me in the similar point form that I explained to the court, I believed that reasonable grounds did exist to make the arrest of Curtis Sagmoen.”
Sgt. Evans explained to court why police had decided to use a four-person surveillance team to facilitate Sagmoen’s arrest while outside of his property.
“There was a level of concern about executing the arrest at Mr. Sagmoen’s residence as the offence involved a firearm,” he said.
Under other circumstances, police may have called Sagmoen to ask for his surrender, but Sgt. Evans said the concern with that plan was that it would give him time to potentially destroy evidence.
“The next option was to conduct surveillance and orchestrate an arrest away from the property,” he said. “We thought that was the safest way to take him in custody and the best way to preserve evidence of the offence.”
More police testimonies continued into the afternoon, and the voir dire is expected to carry on through Wednesday.