A Winnipeg police officer arrested and charged with aggravated assault is the nephew of the city's top cop, Chief Keith McCaskill.

But the chief is stepping back from the matter. McCaskill said he has not viewed the file containing the investigation on his nephew, Const. Ryan Law, and is letting Deputy Chief Shelly Hart act as the lead authority in the case.

McCaskill did tell reporters, however, that Law is considered innocent until proven guilty.

According to a Winnipeg Police Service news release, Law was taken into custody at about 3 p.m. Monday and charged with an assault that is alleged to have occurred Nov. 22 while he was on duty.

According to prosecutor Kerry Unruh — one of eight independent special prosecutors assigned by the province to handle criminal cases involving police officers — the incident unfolded after a suspected car thief was arrested and being held in an interview room at the Public Safety Building.

At some point, Law, a three-year-member of the force, entered the room and kicked the suspect in the stomach, Unruh said, adding that there was no indication the victim was physically resisting police.

Not until after the suspect was taken to the Remand Centre did he need to be rushed to hospital for emergency surgery to his intestines, Unruh said. It took this long for the arrest to be made because investigators left "no stone unturned" in trying to determine what happened, he said.

Law has been released from custody, with conditions, and is under orders to appear in court at a future date. He likely won't go before a judge until late August, Unruh said.

Law has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal hearing to determine his employment status.