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Running over foot not expected to cause fractures, expert witness tells Doug McCallum trial

Outgoing Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum‘s foot was, in fact, run over in a supermarket parking lot, and the woman who did it had been involved in a campaign of harassment against him and other city councillors, McCallum’s lawyer has told a B.C. court.

McCallum has pleaded not guilty to a charge of public mischief over claims he made that Debi Johnstone, a campaigner with Keep the RCMP in Surrey, ran over his foot outside the Save-On-Foods at the Southpoint shopping centre on Sept. 4, 2021.

Read more:

Video inconclusive on Surrey mayor’s foot, but other evidence backs mischief case: RCMP

In his opening statements on Wednesday, defence lawyer David Gottardi told the court that the speed at which Johnstone drove over McCallum’s foot with her Ford Mustang was slow enough that it wouldn’t necessarily break any bones, but was consistent with the soft-tissue injury he said he received.

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Defence, he added, would show how the incident fits in the context of Johnstone’s history with McCallum.

“Ms. Johnstone’s conduct towards Mr. McCallum and other city councillors was objectively designed to exert deleterious pressure on her targets, and that conduct is, on its face, harassment,” Gottardi said.

And the facts of the case showed McCallum had not committed public mischief, regardless of whether or not he made any intentional or unintentional “embellishments” in his report to police, the lawyer added.

Click to play video: 'Day two of Doug McCallum’s public mischief trial features recorded statement made to police'

Day two of Doug McCallum’s public mischief trial features recorded statement made to police

Gottardi said the defence expected to call four witnesses over the next several days, including several medical experts.

Testifying as an expert witness, biomechanical engineer Dennis Chimich referred to McCallum’s medical records, showing swelling on the front outside portion of the mayor’s left foot, which he said he would expect to be the area hurt if it was run over by Johnstone’s back tire.

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He calculated the mass of that portion of the car to be about 413 kg, and referred to a pair of studies looking at foot rollovers, one involving live people and one involving cadavers in a controlled environment.

Those studies revealed friction injuries and abrasions, but few fractures in the live study and none in the studies on cadavers, Chimich testified.

Read more:

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum charged with public mischief over claims his foot was run over

“They concluded, ‘The lack of bone injuries or other serious injuries of the foot do not exclude the foot from having been rolled over at low speeds by a … vehicle. Rather, bone injuries are not to be expected at low speeds,’” he quoted from the second study.

“The absence of fractures or serious injuries for Mr. McCallum does not mean that his foot was not run over in this incident.”

Under cross-examination, Chimich said he had not included the speed of the vehicle or the pressure of its tires in his calculations.

Special prosecutor Richard Fowler questioned the study’s use of cadaver feet, suggesting age, medication or fluid retention could also cause swelling in a foot.

He also asked Chimich if someone who’d been hurt in this way would react by inspecting their injury, but was cautioned by Judge Reg Harris that the question would be better suited to a medical expert.

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The court also heard from Bradley Heinrchs, a mechanical engineer with expertise in video analysis and crash reconstruction.

Moving frame by frame through a grainy, zoomed-in video of the encounter, Heinrchs told the court McCallum appeared to jerk his head and arms back as the rear tire of Johnstone’s Mustang passed him by.

Heinrichs also presented an aerial diagram recreating the path of the Mustang’s front and rear tires, plotted from a 3D model generated from the security video.

He agreed it was possible the rear tire could have run over McCallum’s foot, depending on where he was standing, but said the angle of the security camera made it hard to say exactly where the mayor was positioned.

A day earlier, the lead RCMP investigator in the case testified that surveillance video from the store was inconclusive in determining whether McCallum’s foot was run over, but that there’s enough evidence to suggest some of his claims were false.

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