Francis Payette’s truck erupted into flames in Kamloops on Oct. 16, 2019. (Jolene Anderson/Facebook courtesy to Kamloops This Week)

Accused in Kamloops truck theft argue rights were violated during citizen’s arrest

Couple facing charges of dangerous driving, assault with a weapon and mischief endangering life

  • Mar. 11, 2020 10:30 a.m.

By Tim Petruk/Kamloops This Week

A B.C. Supreme Court judge will decide whether a Kamloops man used excessive force last fall when he slashed a man and beat a woman after they took him on a wild ride on the back of his stolen pickup truck.

Derrick Pearson and Crystal Dorrington are on trial in Kamloops Law Courts, each facing a string of charges, including dangerous driving, assault with a weapon and mischief endangering life.

Lawyers representing the two accused have asked B.C. Supreme Court Justice Dev Dley to throw out the charges on the grounds their Charter rights were violated by Francis Payette, the owner of the stolen truck, during a citizen’s arrest.

Police dash-cam video played in court shows Payette elbowing Dorrington in the face while having her pinned to the ground. Payette also admitted to slashing Pearson with a knife and punching Dorrington in the face prior to police arrival, though he later denied having punched her.

In the video and in a photo shown to court, Dorrington is seen to have severe injuries to her nose, which defence lawyers Sheldon Tate and John Gustafson say came from a bite by Payette — an allegation he has denied.

Dorrington required reconstructive plastic surgery to repair her nose.

The video depicts a chaotic scene. When police arrived, Payette was on top of Dorrington and striking her in the face. Beside them, Payette’s truck was ablaze and black smoke filled the air.

Officers in the video rushed to help Payette subdue the woman, but he remained on top of her. He could be heard later menacing her repeatedly while she spoke to Mounties.

At one point in the video, an officer describes Payette as “an orangutang,” but Payette is never shown to be arrested and he was not charged.

Derrick Pearson and Crystal Dorrington

This photo from Derrick Pearson’s Facebook page shows him with Crystal Dorrington. The pair faces numerous charges in connection with an October incident involving a stolen truck being driven at high speeds down Ord and Westyde roads, with the vehicle’s owner hanging on in the back, before crashing in a field in Westsyde. – Facebook

Payette testified on Monday and Tuesday, describing a bizarre series of events on Oct. 16, 2019, that began with a phone call from a friend, saying he had spotted Payette’s stolen pickup truck on a residential street in Brocklehurst.

Payette said he drove to the area and confronted the occupants of his truck — a woman sitting behind the wheel and a man riding shotgun, allegedly Dorrington and Pearson. Payette told court he demanded the pair get out of the truck, but they drove away. Court heard Payette jumped on the back of the truck and held on.

Payette described a chaotic series of events that followed. He said the women swerved at high speeds in an attempt to make him fall off the truck, then struck a BC Hydro pole. Payette said she then struck a number of vehicles along Ord Road and Westsyde Road before crashing through a fence and coming to a stop in a farmer’s field in Westsyde, where the truck’s engine caught fire.

Read more: Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Read more: Kamloops Mounties seek help in finding woman reported missing

Read more: VIDEO: Road rage incident that ends in crash caught on camera in Lower Mainland

“She was swinging the wheel as much as she could to get me off,” Payette said. “I saw her swinging the wheel as hard as she could with her foot to the floor.”

Payette said the man in the truck shot pepper spray at him while they were driving.

“At that particular point, I remember sitting down on the truck because he had pretty much emptied the can of pepper spray on me,” Payette said. “My leg hurt because I was trying to kick it out of his hand. At that point, I realized she might actually flip the truck. I realized that this is serious.”

In the field, Payette said, he slashed a blade at the man as he came out of the truck. Payette said he then grabbed the woman from the vehicle and threw her to the ground.

Payette admitted to grabbing the woman by the hair and shouting in her face. Police dash-cam footage shows a furious Payette screaming at the woman, apparently threatening to kill her.

“The point was to punish her, wasn’t it?” Gustafson asked.

“Punish her, I guess so,” Payette replied.

“You wanted to hurt her for what she did to your truck,” Gustafson said, raising his voice.

“She tried to kill me multiple times,” Payette responded.

Payette later laughed at Gustafson when the defence lawyer asked if the theft of his truck justified his beating of the woman.

“They stole my truck and tried to kill me,” Payette replied.

The application by Pearson and Dorrington claims Payette was acting as an agent of the state when he placed the pair under citizen’s arrest, meaning he should be held to the same Charter rules regulating the actions of police and excessive force.

It is not known when Dley will rule on the Charter application, but Pearson and Dorrington’s trial is slated to conclude next week. They remain in custody.

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