A 14-year-old boy, Tyler, who was allegedly spat on and berated by a Saskatchewan Penitentiary guard on a Prince Albert street is facing a $100-$150 litter charge in court this week for tossing a soft drink cup at the guard's car.
"We've been trying to teach him respect for authority and the law and that the police are the good guys -- the ones you turn to when you're in trouble. But this incident has helped to destroy a lot of that teaching," said Judy, the grandmother of the teen, Tyler.
Judy and her husband, Cliff, are Tyler's primary caregivers while his mother teaches school on a First Nations reserve during the week. He was the passenger in a truck driven by Judy in October when the guard pulled alongside and unleashed a profanity-laced tirade, then leaned out his window and let go a gob of phlegm from his mouth, according to Judy. It splashed against Tyler's shirt, which the family threw in the garbage when they got home.
A month later an RCMP officer showed up at the family business and charged Tyler with a summary offence for littering. He is scheduled to be in Prince Albert provincial court on Friday.
Penitentiary spokesperson Trent Mitchell said the guard may have faced internal discipline but that was information he could not share with the public.
"We have standards of professional conduct that officers are supposed to abide by while in uniform because there is a certain expectation and public image we must uphold. Whenever there are accusations made against staff members, the institution takes it seriously and we follow up with internal investigations."
The case of the spitter and the litter "all started so innocently," said Judy.
She picked Tyler up from school and went into the drive-through of a local fast food restaurant they often attended. Judy knew the people working and was goaded into revving the engine on her truck when the employee learned it had a Corvette engine.
A man in a vehicle behind them started hollering, according to Judy.
"He says, 'You're damaging the paint on my car.' Then he let out a string of profanities and I thought, 'Holy lick, what brought that on?' "
Judy got her food and left but shortly after the man caught up with them and pulled "really close" beside the truck. When he leaned out to spit, Judy saw the Saskatchewan Penitentiary badge on the shoulder of his shirt.
The man then sped off but on the way home Judy and Tyler saw him again near the edge of town. As they got nearer, the guard raised his hand and offered up his middle finger.
"That's when Tyler reacted by throwing his drink at him," said Judy, who believes Tyler's cup hit the guard's car.
The family made an assault complaint to the Prince Albert police, but, the constable on duty told the family to forget about it and call it "a draw."
"He said that if Tyler hadn't thrown the drink, they could have charged the guard," Judy recalled.
She then called penitentiary's deputy assistant warden, Jason Hope, who promised to look into it if she sent the statement. "I waited two or three days and didn't hear anything. Everytime I phoned back, he refused to talk to me about it," said Judy.
Mitchell said that is likely due to the privacy issues involved with employees. Hope may not have called back because he couldn't say anything at all.
Exasperated, Judy went back to the city police, recounted the entire story to another officer and expressed a desire to lay an assault charge. A few days later the officer called back to explain the guard's side of the incident and that no charges would be laid. According to the guard, he was choking on his burger and coughing, which is why something came out of his mouth and landed on Tyler.