TORONTO – Controversial hockey commentator Don Cherry is speaking out on Twitter about a court verdict that will send a man who killed a Toronto police officer with a snow plow to a psychiatric hospital instead of prison.
In posts to his official Twitter account on Friday, the outspoken broadcaster says he can’t believe Richard Kachkar was found not criminally responsible in the death of Sgt. Ryan Russell.
The tweets say that in Cherry’s view it seems if you kill someone and “act mentally disturbed” then you can be let free.
However, the verdict means Kachkar will be assessed and treated at a psychiatric facility—and will only be released when a review board decides he is not a significant threat to public safety.
The tweets take aim at what Cherry calls an “unelected left wing judge,” a lawyer he says whittled the jury down to feeling sympathy for Kachkar and the “left wing media.”
The verdict delivered Wednesday means the jury believed Kachkar couldn’t appreciate what he was doing when he drove a 5,050-kilogram plow at Russell, knocking him down and killing him in January, 2011.
Kachkar was assessed for the trial by three prominent forensic psychiatrists, including one who was chosen by the Crown, each of whom found that the drifter from St. Catharines, Ont., was psychotic when he killed Russell.
But Cherry, known to speak his mind on political topics, took issue with the result of the trial.
“I just can’t get over how Sergeant Ryan Russell’s wife and parents must feel today,” one of Cherry’s posting says.
“I know the verdict won’t bring back Sgt. Russell but it’s got to hurt to see the guy go scott free.”
“I read in the paper, the police must do a better job in recognizing the mentally challenged. But I must say it’s going to be tough to recognize when a snow plow is coming at you (at) 50 miles an hour,” the tweets say.
Cherry isn’t a stranger to generating controversy with his social media musings.
In January a series of tweets on his account took umbrage with Canadian foreign aid to Haiti.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who Cherry helped swear in at city hall, was criticized by Kachkar’s lawyer Monday after the mayor called in to a local radio show to complain about the not criminally responsible defence the day before the jurors began verdict deliberations.
A spokesman for the CBC said Cherry’s tweets were his own and he wasn’t speaking on behalf of the public broadcaster.