SARNIA - Charges of assault against a native man in a clash between protesters and police outside Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995 were tossed out of court Tuesday.
Judge Greg Pockele said the evidence suggested David George probably did attack one of the OPP's riot squad but that he had no choice but to acquit George.
Pockele said Crown evidence in the trial in Ontario court, provincial division, didn't prove "this matter beyond a reasonable doubt."
While evidence suggested George probably was the attacker identified by one officer, "probably isn't good enough," the judge said.
OPP Const. Kelly McGrath had testified George was the man who broke his shield and struck him on the shoulder with a piece of wood during the clash on Sept. 6, 1995.
In his ruling, the judge said he couldn't convict George on McGrath's evidence because the officer had a "poor opportunity to observe" during the melee between protesters with sticks and bats and police with shields and batons.
Pockele said McGrath only had a brief time to identify George after the officer was attacked from the side and the lighting was poor.
Evidence was other officers in line beside McGrath couldn't identify the attacker.
George, 26, of Stoney Point, had been charged with assaulting police and assault with a weapon.
He said after court he was "a little surprised" by the verdict and "pretty happy."
At the end of the trial on Tuesday, the judge reserved to Feb. 12 his decision on charges against a second native.
Warren George, 24, also of Stoney Point, is charged with dangerous driving causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon, the car, during the clashes.
Dudley George, one of the protesters, was shot and killed by police during the confrontation. OPP acting sergeant Kenneth Deane was later convicted of criminal negligence causing death.
Another protester, Cecil Bernard George, has filed a civil action against police, arguing he was badly beaten by officers who used excessive force against him.
In his arguments, prosecutor Henry Van Drunen urged the judge to accept Crown evidence Warren George had used his car "somewhat as a tank or armored vehicle" in an attempt to force police away from the park.
Van Drunen said Pockele should reject George's testimony he was justified because he was trying to rescue Cecil Bernard George.
George's lawyer, Jeff House, argued George's rationale for driving the car out of the park and at the police line was sound.
No one in Canada is required to stand by and watch anyone being beaten up," House said.