April 14th, 2024

Numerous charges net short sentence

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on March 20, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Assaulting two peace officers, threatening to burn a third officer, assaulting a restaurant employee with a can and causing a disturbance has resulted in a short jail term for a Lethbridge woman.

Cheyanne McGinnis, 31, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Lethbridge court of justice to two counts of assaulting a peace officer, two counts of causing a disturbance and single counts of assault with a weapon and uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm. She was sentenced to 75 days in jail, but credited for 75 days already spent in custody, which completes her sentence. She will, however, be on probation for one year.

McGinnis began racking up the criminal offences on July 5 of last year when she was at Dairy Queen on the westside but had been refused service because she was rude and belligerent to staff members and had struck an employee in the face with a can.

As police, who were already nearby after responding to an unrelated call, walked toward the restaurant, McGinnis approached them and admitted what she had done, then turned around and walked away.

“A female approached them and said she had just punched an employee…because they had kicked her out of the restaurant,” Crown Prosecutor Marshall Gourlay told court.

Police followed McGinnis toward the business and arrested her.

A day later police were notified that McGinnis was harassing a woman. The woman told police McGinnis, who lived in an adjacent apartment, had yelled at her from her balcony and approached her residence numerous times to yell and call her names. Police, court was told, had warned McGinnis previously not to have any contact with the woman.

On July 6, however, the frightened victim called police and said McGinnis had returned to her apartment and was yelling again. When police responded and arrested McGinnis, she behaved erratically; yelling, swearing and uttering threats. She continued to scream and spit after she was placed in the police vehicle.

McGinnis was in trouble again five months later when, on Dec. 28, she was at a storage facility on the northside and causing a disturbance by yelling, screaming and kicking things after she was denied access to her mother’s storage container. Police arrived and found McGinnis lying face down in the middle of the lot.

“McGinnis began ranting incoherently about various government conspiracies, her disapproval of the Trudeau government, and how the police were the cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and other largely indecipherable matters,” Gourlay said. “Police continued to speak with McGinnis; she became highly elevated, stood up and began yelling at the top of her lungs while foaming at the mouth.”

McGinnis fled from police but was arrested after a brief chase. During her arrest she punched an officer in the face and was taken to the ground and handcuffed. She continued struggling with police and had to be hobbled in order to get her in the police vehicle and prevent her from kicking officers and the vehicle.

On Feb. 6 of this year, while McGinnis was subject to a curfew, she was at the Chinook Regional Hospital where she was detained for assaulting a peace officer. When police arrived McGinnis was in the ambulance bay and was wearing a spit mask because she had spit on a peace officer’s face while she was being escorted off the property.

Only four days later McGinnis’s mother called police and said her daughter was having a manic episode outside the hospital where she had brought McGinnis to be assessed but who began causing a disturbance. Police attempted to calm McGinnis, without success, and when she walked away they attempted to stop her.

“McGinnis got upset and while (the officer) was standing in the way of her, she told (him) that she would burn his face, and gestured to a lit cigarette that she had in her hand, which she began to hold in a manner as if to swing at (the officer),” Gourlay said, noting that McGinnis was arrested for uttering threats.

Despite her spate of criminal offences last year and earlier this year, Gourlay noted McGinnis only has one criminal conviction for assault in 2021, for which she was given a conditional discharge.

Her lawyer, Marcus Mueller of Lethbridge, pointed out McGinnis struggles with mental health issues but was previously doing well. She graduated from Haskayne School of Business at the top of her class, and was doing well until things changed in her life.

“At one point (she) was working on Vancouver Island doing corporate insurance,” Mueller said. “The way it was described to me was that there was a 14-million underwrite, and that was actually her smallest file, so this is somebody, who not very long ago, was really succeeding in life. Obviously that’s taken a turn for the worse.”

Given her mental health, Mueller expressed his disappointment about how police dealt with her at the hospital.

“I just want to note how odd it is that a person who is obviously suffering some sort of a mental breakdown, sent to the hospital, which is where you’d think a person in that situation ought to go and ought to be well-received, and instead she ended up getting kicked out and then arrested; post-arrest conduct, lets say, when she’s clearly struggling with her mental health. As defence I just care to note that it’s a little bit less than charitable on the part of police.”

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