An Edmonton man has launched a half-million dollar lawsuit against the city’s police force, accusing them of excessive force when he was arrested in the back of of his meat shop two years ago.
On August 28, 2011, El-Sayed [Sammy] Sobieh was arrested behind his Norwood-area store after confronting a man who Sobieh says assaulted one of his employees several days earlier. The lawsuit alleges that the man pulled out a can of pepper spray, and then called police and told them that Sobieh was threatening him with a meat hook.
Surveillance video shows that Sobieh was holding the hook at the time, but is not seen raising it. He later goes inside and returns without the hook.
The lawsuit alleges that three Edmonton police officers arrived and arrested Sobieh and in doing so, he claims the officers slammed his head against a truck, even though he was cooperating.
It also states that he was kicked in the ribs once or twice before being handcuffed, and that his head was pushed into a wall while in a holding cell.
"As these things go, the injuries are very serious compared to the types of injuries that you normally see when police officers use excessive force," said Sobieh's Edmonton lawyer, Tom Engel.
A 2012 investigation by Alberta’s Serious Incident Response Team, which handles cases of serious injury or death involving police officers, found that there was "reasonable and probable grounds" to believe an offence had been committed by the officers.
However, prosecutors declined to press charges, citing the difficulty of getting a conviction.
Sobieh’s lawsuit also accuses police of bringing unwarranted charges against him three separate times in the months after the arrest. All the charges were later stayed by the Crown.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.