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Windsor police officer guilty of discreditable conduct for donation to Freedom Convoy

Demonstrators block traffic on Huron Church Road near the Ambassador Bridge border crossing in Windsor, Ont., on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (Bob Bellacicco / CTV Windsor) Demonstrators block traffic on Huron Church Road near the Ambassador Bridge border crossing in Windsor, Ont., on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. (Bob Bellacicco / CTV Windsor)
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A Windsor police officer was found guilty of discreditable conduct for his donation to the Freedom Convoy.

Const. Michael Brisco, 44, was convicted of the single count in a Police Services Act hearing Friday.

Brisco admitted to making a $50 online donation to support the protest in Ottawa which he believed was a “noble cause.”

His Feb. 7 2022 donation was made after the protest in Ottawa was declared an illegal occupation by the city’s Chief of Police, and the same day the Ambassador Bridge blockade started in Windsor.

At the time, Brisco was off on an unpaid leave of absence for not complying with the Windsor Police Service (WPS) COVID-19 vaccine directive.

During his six-day hearing this past February, Brisco testified he didn’t think he’d ever be able to return to work as a police officer and he saw his donation as a civilian action.

In his 18-page decision, hearing adjudicator retired OPP Sgt. Morris Elbers ruled the WPS vaccine directive was “very clear” and that there was no reason for Brisco to think he was no longer an employee.

“The evidence in my opinion is overwhelming, and I do not believe a reasonable person could reach any other conclusion,” Elbers wrote.

During his evidence, Brisco testified he had read and understood the directive and acknowledged it did not threaten termination for not complying.

But Brisco maintained this unpaid leave was different from a paternity leave because his weapons and work-issued electronics were taken from him.

While describing Brisco as an “intelligent officer,” Elbers also wrote, “it appeared to me he (Brisco) cherry picked his answers in relation to being a member.”

Elbers then turned his focus to whether or not Brisco’s donation constituted discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act.

“He (Brisco) believes his Charter Rights were breached,” Elbers wrote. “He (Brisco) argued he (made the donation) as a civilian and it was (an) anonymous donation only found out by his service due to the hacked documents,” Elbers wrote.

Brisco’s name appeared on a leaked list of supporters, which was sent to the OPP’s Intelligence Branch for investigation.

Brisco made the $50 donation on Feb. 7 2022, five days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared the Ottawa occupation illegal and the same day protestors arrived in Windsor at the Ambassador Bridge.

“It is clear at the time of Const. Brisco’s donation that the protest was unlawful,” wrote Elbers.

During his testimony, Brisco told the tribunal he was an avid consumer of information about the Freedom Convoy on social and mainstream media.

But he denied knowing about the Ambassador Bridge protest.

“I find that statement remarkable,” said Elbers. “I am sure all media sites would have shown the issues in Windsor.”

Brisco testified he did not support blocking the Ambassador Bridge that his money was meant for Tamara Lich in Ottawa.

But Elbers was critical of that point as well, writing, “The person placing the donation has no power to dictate where the contribution ought to be headed. It is out of your control.”

“The money enabled the protestors and made it more difficult for the police being on the opposite side. “I understand it was a cause he (Brisco) believed in but this does not render it okay when you are a member of police service.”

Elbers then found Brisco guilty of discreditable conduct.

Brisco declined requests for an on-camera interview outside police headquarters pending conclusion of the matter.

But he did say to reporters, “I want to get back to doing my job and this is holding me back.”

Both lawyers, David Amyott for the Windsor Police Service and defence lawyer Shane Miles declined to comment until the matter is concluded later this year.

A one-day penalty hearing will now be held on May 4.

According to the lawyers and Elbers, the penalty for discreditable conduct could be anywhere from a verbal reprimand to dismissal.

The allegation required six days for testimony and arguments, heard from three witnesses and resulted in 13 exhibits.

A second Windsor police officer, Const. Brooke Fazekas is facing a similar charge of discreditable conduct for allegedly donating to the Freedom Convoy, but a date has yet to be set for that hearing.  

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