A language barrier may have played a role in a tense faceoff between police and a machete-wielding man in a city home, the man’s lawyer says.
Defence lawyer Ryan Fawcett said his client —a Spanish speaker who’s originally from El Salvador — didn’t understand police commands to drop the weapon.
“He was surprised to see them and was frightened … his English is also poor, and unfortunately he did not comply with the orders immediately,” Fawcett said.
Hugo Omar Arevalo, 36, pleaded guilty on Monday to possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
Crown attorney Grant Hughes told court that city police were called to a home on the 100-block of 12th Street East around 3:15 a.m. on Jan. 5.
The callers said a man in the basement was threatening them with a knife.
One police officer drew a gun and another drew a Taser as they descended into the basement to find Arevalo swinging a machete in one hand as he clutched its sheath in the other.
Arevalo initially wouldn’t drop the machete even though police told him to several times. Finally, the “agitated” man dropped the weapon and was quickly handcuffed.
It was a tense situation that could have got out of control quickly, Hughes said.
Arevalo — the only one hurt in the incident — had cut his hand while handling the machete and received stitches at the Brandon hospital before being taken to the Brandon jail.
Fawcett said that Arevalo was drinking at the time of the offence. He was upset because the door to the basement, where he apparently lived, had frozen shut and the key had broken off in the lock.
Arevalo has been in Canada for more than seven years and works at Maple Leaf Foods. He was assisted in court by a Spanish-speaking translator.
He denies that he threatened or intended to hurt anyone, Fawcett said.
Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta fined Arevalo $500 and put him on probation for a year.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 26, 2014