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Man who stabbed Whitehorse RCMP officer during wellness check gets conditional discharge

Jason Acklack's lawyer told the courts that before and after the incident, Acklack was a
Jason Acklack's lawyer told the courts that before and after the incident, Acklack was a

A man who stabbed a Whitehorse RCMP officer during a wellness check has received a conditional discharge.

Jason Acklack pleaded guilty last month to one count of assaulting a peace officer with a weapon on the first day of what was scheduled to be a five day trial in territorial court.

The charge was related to a stand-off that took place between Acklack, now 49, and police at his Whistle Bend apartment on April 20, 2022.

The officer Acklack stabbed was wearing body armour and not physically injured in the incident. 

A conditional discharge is made when a person agrees they are guilty, but, if the they follow the conditions laid out by the court, the incident will be cleared from their criminal record.

Blocking a forced entry

According to an agreed statement of facts and information shared in court by defence lawyer Malcolm Campbell, Acklack's former spouse had called 911 that day to request a wellness check.

The former spouse reported that Acklack had not been answering his phone, and when she stopped by his apartment, he told her to leave and that there were "people nearby who wanted to beat him up" while pointing to an area with no one around.

At the time, Campbell said, Acklack was "concerned about obesity" and was approximately 35 days into a 40-day fast, had not drank water in several days and had also smoked "a couple of joints" of cannabis.

All of those factors likely contributed to his condition, Campbell said, and the situation "subsequently spiraled downhill from there."

Three officers went to Acklack's apartment to conduct the wellness check, to which he was not cooperative. He told officers to leave, gave "incoherent" responses to their questions, and at one point, called 911 to report "fake police officers outside his door trying to get in."

Two of the officers forcibly entered Acklack's apartment after hearing him say he was going to shoot or kill himself, pushing the door open while Acklack tried to push it closed. He then put his hand out from behind the door, "produced a knife" and stabbed one of the officers in the chest.

The knife did not pierce the officer's body armour. The officers retreated and Acklack closed and relocked the door. More police officers were called to the scene, including the emergency response teams from both Whitehorse and Prince George, and Acklack was eventually arrested.

Police originally charged him with attempted murder, among other counts, but the Crown later downgraded the charge.

'Unfortunate situation'

The Crown and defence gave a joint sentencing submission, with both sides endorsing the conditional discharge.

"Mr. Acklack had a bad day on the 20th of April, 2022," Campbell said, noting that, prior to and following the incident, Acklack was a "contributing member of society."

"I don't expect you'll be seeing Mr. Acklack before the courts again," he added.

Crown attorney Kimberly Eldred, meanwhile, described the events as a "very unfortunate situation all the way around."

"You won't see me back here again 'til I die," Acklack said when given the chance to address the court.

Deputy territorial court judge Richard Schneider accepted the joint sentencing submission, describing a conditional discharge as "reasonable" under the circumstances. He also approved the Crown and defence's suggestion that Acklack be subject to a 12-month-long probation order, with terms including keeping good behaviour, having no contact with the officer he stabbed, completing 20 hours of community service and attending counselling as required.

The Crown entered a stay on two other charges against him.