“Emily.” (Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press) It’s occurred to her that while she’s been struggling, Paquette has drawn a good salary — more than $115,000 a year — while reassigned to administrative duties, and later off on medical leave.“He could have paid for my master’s program that I can’t get into, because I’m too poor,” Emily jokes. “I’m trying to make my life here. But, again, I try not to think about it.”In spring 2018, she gave McLean written permission to discuss this case with The Free Press.In the hospital interview, McLean asks about her. The two hadn’t spoken since McLean called her about a year earlier to tell her he was off the case.“She is responsible enough to know she did something wrong. I’m glad it turned out for her,” he says.“I liked her. She was a sweet kid. She was one of the ones who brought a smile to my face, a kind of ironic smile sometimes. You couldn’t not like her.”After the surgery, McLean underwent radiation. But the cancers spread.“I’ve basically been in the hospital ever since, except for a few days here and there,” he says. “It all just kind of blew up.”Partway through the hour-long conversation, his doctor comes into the room to check on him.“This is a reporter. He’s not here to talk about you,” he jokes with her.A nurse comes by later to see if he’s ready for a bath.“I’m going to get the spa treatment,” McLean tells me, wry to the end.Near the end of his interview, McLean tries to remember someone he wants me to check out.“I’ll remember it someday,” he says. “Good luck with this story.”Seven weeks after the interview, on July 12, 2018, McLean died. He was 67.In a Free Press story about his death, colleagues praised the sharp legal mind and soft heart that helped his clients.Emily was one of his last clients, if not his last.“I was lucky, really lucky,” she says. “I owe it all to Craig. He went out of his way for me.”The summer McLean died, Emily moved to Toronto with the boyfriend who’d stuck with her after the arrest. He’s beginning his career; she’s working as a bartender, as she’s done for years.“It’s not really a trigger,” she says. “Every night that I finish work, there is somebody walking out the door that is going to make a really bad decision. It puts some perspective in me.”She’s looking for a new career. She hasn’t had a drink since the night of the assault. It’s a plot twist, Paquette’s assault on her.“That experience was so traumatic. I was so beat up I couldn’t move for days. I was on probation for a year. I couldn’t work in my field,” she says in a recent interview.“There were a lot of factors that helped with my sobriety. As much as it’s a horrible thing, I wouldn’t have had this life right now if he didn’t do that. I know that for a fact.”For more than a year, Emily has waited for The Free Press to publish this story.She has shown patience through interviews and re-interviews, carefully answered dozens and dozens of questions, and maintained her composure despite the anxiety caused when it seemed a legal application by the police officer who assaulted her could reveal her name. Paquette did not serve her with the application materials.In the papers Emily collected to prove in court that she was a decent person is a clue to the tenacity she shared with McLean. It’s a letter of commendation written by the head of an organization several years ago.When Emily was 17, she was visiting with a volunteer group when it was “viciously attacked” in a park, the letter says. Two assailants tried to throw a volunteer over a railing onto a road below.Emily pulled one assailant off the victim, then threw herself between the other assailant and the victim. She was punched in the face, suffering a split lip, but held her ground until a passing police car was flagged down.She prevented a volunteer being badly hurt, or even killed, the letter says. Emily stepped in. She spoke. She acted.“I always try to be someone that if I see something, I try to say something,” Emily says.Hence, the telling of this story — not the once-upon-a-time version first told by police, or the limited version sought later by Paquette — but the real story.A story about police brutality and police silence, about the veteran lawyer and struggling woman who fought for the right ending.In that sad and happy ending, a story about one life passing and one life email@example.comDo you any feedback on WE ARE THE COPS, our six-part investigation? We always want to hear from readers. Email us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.orgRead WE ARE THE COPS from the beginning by clicking here Assault victim’s ‘legal ghost’ came to haunt police attackerA dogged, dying London lawyer pried loose video revealing an ugly cellblock assault, clearing his client and leading to a cop’s conviction.Lawyer Craig McLean sits in a hospital bed in a palliative care unit, his legal gown replaced by a hospital gown, but no less wry and sharp than he was in a courtroom.To a reporter looking for a place to rest, he looks at one seat and quips, “That’s a commode.”Guiding the reporter to safety, he begins to chat.“I’m a lot better than I was. I came in here feeling kind of ill and two days later, they’re (surgeons are) cutting my head open,” he says, then adds with a chuckle, “so it surprised me.”Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.It’s taken a few months to find McLean.He used to be easy to locate: Just head to the London courthouse, where the tenacious defence lawyer could be found gliding through the halls in his Superior Court robes or in court, carefully arguing cases.But he’s a private man, and, in sickness, protected by family and friends.They must check with McLean first, before letting a reporter know he’s in hospital and willing to tell a story about a “sweet kid” who came into his office in fall 2016.The “sweet kid” was 24 at the time, a woman The London Free Press is calling Emily to protect her identity.She was in trouble, charged with assaulting police and resisting arrest.When she went to court for the first time, on Oct. 20, 2016, she was tempted to accept a Crown offer, Emily says.If she pleaded guilty to assaulting the officers and breaking a window, the resisting arrest charge would be dropped, according to documents obtained by The Free Press. She would receive a suspended sentence, leaving her with a criminal record. She’d go on probation and have to provide “some significant community service hours and restitution.”But a relative recommended she visit McLean instead.McLean remembers a “little thing, weighing about 90 pounds,” coming into his office saying she was charged with assaulting police.We Are The Cops, extra: Expert: Police culture must be reviewed, reformed READ IT HERE“It reeked. It reeked,” he recalls from his hospital bed. “It stunk. She had a big black eye. Little girls like that don’t attack whole cell staffs.”A lawyer for 35 years, McLean had a reputation for taking his cases to court rather than taking a quick plea deal.“At first, she just wanted to go in and plead guilty,” he says. “And I remember saying that would be a dumb thing to do. I was quite strong in what I said to her, more than what I normally would be, because I thought it was such bull. She has ambitions and plans. With a conviction, it would have been tough for her.”Emily remembers that first meeting with McLean.She made too much as a server to qualify for legal aid, but too little, especially with a student loan from university, to afford a lawyer.“I had no way to pay for one. I drained all my accounts the first time I saw him and gave him every dollar I had just for the $500 retainer,” she says. “After that, he never asked for anything again. I never got a bill.”A few days after their first meeting, McLean received disclosure from the Crown: statements of officers involved in the arrest.“I just couldn’t believe what was there. It just didn’t make sense,” he says. “She was a raving lunatic, according to the disclosure. She was kicking the police, trying to boot them, minus shoes. It’s hard to imagine she would be a danger to multiple police officers with guns in cells.”According to some of the police witness statements obtained by The Free Press, Emily kicked an officer in the stomach several times, pushed, bit and spit at other officers, and “struggled violently.”McLean began the long battle to get the Crown to obtain and release the police surveillance video from the station the morning of the arrest.“They (the Crown) were so slow in response to my request for video. Nobody ever said no, but it was very, very slow. It was so slow, that stunk, too,” he says. “They (police) don’t like to disclose those videos, usually because there is something on it that doesn’t put them in a good light.”Emily recalls sitting in McLean’s office, while he talked about the video.“He was saying, ‘I can’t get those videos.’ He was a closed man. Tapping his pen on the desk, frustrated, very frustrated,” she says.She had qualms about the video, because she knew it would show her own poor behaviour.“I kept saying, ‘I hope they don’t find those videos.’ And Craig is saying, ‘No, we want to find those videos.’”While McLean fought her legal battle, Emily fought her internal battles.She knew she’d been a good person once. She’d been volunteering since she was a teenager. She travelled to another country to work with children. She worked hard at school and got good marks. But anxiety and depression came with the drive to excel.Like everyone else her age, she drank at weekend house and bush parties. What else was there to do in a small town?In university, her anxiety grew. Her solution was right at hand. Her family income was limited and despite getting a few small bursaries, Emily had to work full-time to pay tuition and expenses, so she got a job tending bar.“I was going from school to work to school to work to school again. I was trying to save money and pay for everything and then trying to stay in school, and then I was trying to party at the same time, so I got really out of control where I was so tired all the time and using alcohol to give me an extra edge.”First, she just had a few more than she should. Beer a little earlier in the day than usual. A couple of shots before class.Her marks started to fall. When she drank, she got crazy. She confronted people to get a rise out of them. She lied to her friends. She lost professors’ respect.The manager of the bar where she worked called her parents and suddenly she was pulled out of school, her courses unfinished, her future in tatters, back in London under the watch of family.“I felt like a complete failure,” she says. “I was so shameful and angry with myself for falling apart.”In London, she and her family tried to get her into rehab. She was bounced from counsellor to counsellor. No one seemed to fit.“It really takes its toll because you’re letting your heart out, and then you’re passed on and it gets to this point where there isn’t a resolution. I was just coming up roadblocks every time.”But that wasn’t the biggest problem, she knows.“I couldn’t stay away from alcohol long enough. I could go a few days without it, or even a week or two, but I would always come back,” she says. “I was relapsing closer and closer together and they were getting more and more out of control. It really started spiralling really, really fast and I didn’t seem to have any control over it.”Drinking made her more miserable, angry at herself for leaving school, for continuing to drink, for not seeing the danger signs and getting help sooner, for destroying the life she’d worked so hard to create.So she drank more.After her arrest, her mother gave her an ultimatum: Give up booze or give up your family.On her mother’s orders, she started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. For weeks after the assault, she did little more than sleep, get a ride to AA meetings, then go back to sleep.Shame, as much as her 7 p.m. daily curfew — a condition of her release by police — kept her home at night.“I just cut off all connections to everybody because I was so embarrassed and so shameful about it,” she says. “I don’t want people to know about it.”The last few years, the most she could accomplish was three months dry.“There was a lot of self-talk in my head: ‘You can pretend that you’re not going to be drinking, but in a few months from now, you’re going to have a drink for some reason.’”Three months passed, and she didn’t drink. She started focusing on her diet and doing yoga. She eventually found an addiction counsellor she liked. She scrambled to gather the artifacts from her life before she became a blackout drunk, hoping they’d show the court who she was and who she could become.We Are The Cops, extra: London police board responds READ IT HERE“I was crying every other minute: ‘Oh my God, I messed up.’ I was pulling up recommendation letters from professors and others, even one from my high school principal from five years ago . . . ‘Please prove I’m a good person.’ ”As winter passed and spring 2017 arrived, Emily was still not drinking. And McLean was still trying to get full disclosure from the Crown.He or his agent appeared in court eight times between fall 2016 and spring 2017 trying to get the surveillance video.Just as it appeared he would succeed, in March 2017, he started feeling unwell.“Nausea, tiredness, fatigue, dizziness,” McLean recalls.His assistant at the time, Sandy Cody, recalls wondering about changes in his behaviour.He would lose his train of thought. “It’s like he would slip in and out. I didn’t know what was wrong,” Cody says.“Craig was always a gentleman. He never ever spoke crossly,” she says, but he began to lose his temper now and then, or get cross for no reason.“I thought he was having mini-strokes,” Cody says.In court, though, he remained sharp.“No one really realized he was experiencing a cognitive decline because he was really sharp and on point in court,” says lawyer Carolyn Conron, who shared an office with McLean and viewed him as a mentor.“He was very kind and soft-spoken, but very effective. He was very patient,” Conron recalls.“He never looked bothered by anything. He had all these major cases. He would wear robes a lot because he had Superior Court work . . . (and) it looked like he was gliding around, because he would walk at his own pace, like a legal ghost.”In tributes to him later, one colleague said McLean was “like a beautiful shark, quiet but potentially lethal.” Another explained his nickname, Hoover, by describing how McLean vacuumed up every detail of testimony and bit of information he could at trial.“That’s where Craig was at his best, in court. And I think that’s why Craig kept going to the courthouse. Come to work, go to court,” Cody says.In court on March 15, 2017, McLean was at his wry best, chuckling when he tried to explain again why surveillance video from the scene of his client’s alleged crime would be helpful. That day, the Crown finally agreed to his request.McLean laughs, recalling the fiery response his client had to his description of the video.“She was in my office just a-fuming. She was mad. I wanted her to look at it. She didn’t blow up, but she looked like she was going to,” he says.“I remember asking her, ‘Do you want to go after these guys? Do you want to sue them?’ She had no interest in doing that.”Charges against Emily were stayed on June 27, 2017. She had been living with the charges for 268 days. London police Sgt. Peter Paquette was charged with assaulting her.“I didn’t believe Craig saying, ‘This is all going to blow over and you don’t have to worry about a thing,’” she recalls. “I didn’t believe it because I had been such a horrible person to people. I felt like I deserved it because of everything I had done.”Conron represented Emily in court at her last hearing. McLean had been admitted to hospital, where surgeons removed several tumours from his brain.He disappeared from public view.Emily tried to do the same. She did not attend the court hearing at which the officer who assaulted her pleaded guilty.And when The Free Press tracked her down in 2018, she was reluctant to talk, at first.“I don’t want to stir up everything,” she said in her first interview. “I still feel so much guilt and shame over everything. I feel like I threw my own life away.”By then, she’d completed her university degree online, but had given up dreams of her chosen career.“I had my thesis and my master’s (degree) lined up years ago. I literally just tossed that away with all my friends. I lost all my friends.”She was taking courses at Fanshawe College to improve her chances of getting into a different master’s program.Twice since that first interview, she was accepted into programs but had to defer, because she hadn’t saved the roughly $30,000 she’d need for living expenses and a tuition not covered by OSAP.