MANDEL: Sgt. Ryan Russell's killer seeks conditional discharge five years after deemed NCR
More from Michele Mandel
July 13, 2018
July 13, 2018 8:29 PM EDT
Christine Russell, widow of Toronto Police Sgt. Ryan Russell, speaks to media after the ORB hearing, regarding the possible conditional discharge of her husband's killer, Richard Kachkar, at the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health, in Whitby, on Friday, July 13, 2018. (Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)
Just pick up your head and look her in the eye. And for God’s sake, just apologize.
It won’t make it right. It won’t heal her pain. But if Richard Kachkar is doing so well now, if he’s really remorseful and has insight into his “index offence” and is being fast tracked to a conditional discharge, then have the simple decency to at least look at the widow he created when he mowed down Sgt. Ryan Russell with that stolen snowplow in 2011.
Look at her and acknowledge what his illness has cost her innocent family.
Toronto Police Sgt. Ryan Russell is seen with his wife Christine and their baby in a photo taken from Facebook on Wednesday, January 12, 2011.
But Kachkar does not. Just as he hasn’t at any of these annual hearings of the Ontario Review Board which has monitored him since he was found not criminally responsible in 2013.
Instead, the hearing was all about how well Kachkar is doing and why everyone agrees — from his psychiatrist at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences to his lawyer and even the Crown attorney — that while he still poses a danger to the public and can’t be given an absolute discharge yet, he should be given a conditional discharge.
He’s already been out of the hospital and living in the community in an approved apartment with daily support since April 2017. He’s also been allowed to visit his daughter in Hamilton on five occasions.
Richard Kachkar, shown in an undated Facebook photo, was found not criminally responsible in 2013 for killing Toronto Police Sgt. Ryan Russell while driving a stolen snowplow.
Christine Russell called it a “joke.”
“It just confirms what I thought from the verdict — I thought five years and this guy will be free,” the widow said outside the hearing. “And sure enough this is how the system works. He’s just another notorious NCR killer out on the loose.”
In January 2011, Kachkar fled a homeless shelter in his bare feet, stole an idling plow and proceeded to go on a violent joyride through midtown Toronto, striking the young sergeant on Avenue Rd.
Acquitted of first-degree murder and found not criminally responsible (NCR) in 2013, he was initially detained at Ontario Shores in Whitby. He was gradually moved out of the secure forensic unit into minimum security and in 2016 was given unsupervised passes into the community.
Makeshift memorial for Toronto Police Sgt. Ryan Russell on Avenue Rd., north of Davenport Rd., seen on Thursday, January 13, 2011. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun)
In 2017, Kachkar was released to supportive housing in Durham Region where he’s visited by a mental health worker five times a week.
His psychiatrist told the board Kachkar still suffers from an atypical chronic psychotic illness similar to schizophrenia with symptoms triggered by stress. He’s been symptom-free since the “index offence” — they never mention his killing Russell — and now understands that he must remain on his anti-psychotic medication and be wary of managing the stress in his life. Kachkar also understands that he’ll need psychiatric monitoring for life.
It was Russell’s widow who interrupted the happy progress report to inject some reality into the proceedings.
Even there, she was censored. Minutes before she was to deliver her victim impact statement, she was told most of it had to be cut because it went too far. “That’s the hardest part of being a victim in this system,” she explained. “You’re squashed time and time again, and he’s protected from hearing how I really feel and the things he’s done to me and my family.”
The funeral for slain Toronto Police Sgt. Ryan Russell at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on January 18, 2011. Thousand of police officers lined the streets and filed into the funeral service. Michael Peake/Toronto Sun)
But Russell was able to slip in some of what she had written.
Her voice trembling, she looked at Kachkar sitting at the conference table with his eyes cast down, as always.
“Richard,” Russell said, demanding his attention. “You killed my husband, Ryan Russell, 7 1/2 years ago, but it’s me getting the life sentence.
“I’m the one living without him. My son will never spend his life with his dad. Sitting here, hearing how you get to see your daughter, and I don’t get that. You took away my partner, my best friend, in the worst way possible.
“You took a father from a two-year-old boy. My son will never know his dad…This is so unfair.”
Christine Russell kisses son Nolan, 5, at the funeral of her husband, Toronto Police Sgt. Ryan Russell during his funeral in Toronto on Tuesday, January 18, 2011. Nathan Denette/Pool Photo)
None of that matters to this process. It’s all incidental. Instead, the focus is always on Kachkar. “It’s all about how fast he can be pushed through the system and given the all-clear,” Russell says,
Yet no one will answer this one question, a question that was ordered stricken from her victim impact statement: “If he is so rehabilitated and so ready to be part of society again, ” she asks, “why is it impossible for him to apologize?”
The board has reserved its decision.