Edmonton

Edmonton police officer docked 30 hours pay for 2016 arrest that left man with collapsed lung

Constable pleaded guilty to using unlawful, excessive force

Posted: August 03, 2020

A disciplinary hearing was held in September in relation to the incident that happened in July 2016. (CBC)

An Edmonton police officer was docked 30 hours of pay for kicking and punching a man so hard that he suffered a collapsed lung. 

Const. Ghulom Sakhi, who admitted using unlawful, excessive force during the July 2016 arrest, pleaded guilty at an Edmonton police disciplinary hearing held last September. The written decision was recently obtained by CBC News. 

Lawyers for Edmonton's police chief and Sakhi entered an agreed statement of facts about the events that led up to the man's injury during the arrest four years ago in Old Strathcona. 

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Sakhi and his partner were sitting in their parked police vehicle just before midnight on a Friday night when a man approached to report he had just seen his bicycle, which had been stolen earlier in the day, being ridden by a man in the area of 81st Avenue and 101st Street. 

Other witnesses were able to identify the man on the stolen bike. 

Just then, officers spotted the alleged bike thief — identified in the written decision as Mr. B.B. — riding toward them. Sakhi told him to stop but B.B. kept going, riding toward the United Cycle parking lot. The officers got back in their vehicle and followed the cyclist. 

A surveillance video showed B.B. hit a fence in the parking lot and fall. He quickly got back on the bike and tried to get away. 

Sakhi's partner got out of the car to chase the suspect on foot. The officer ordered B.B. to stop, drop the bike and get on the ground. 

According to the written decision, "Constable C.C. believed that Mr. B.B. was complying with his verbal directions and that Mr. B.B. did not pose a threat to him." 

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The officer was just about to place handcuffs on the suspect when Sakhi "arrived suddenly and delivered a knee stun to Mr. B.B.'s back." 

The attack continued. Sakhi admitted he gave the suspect, who had begun "yelling and resisting," another two to three knee strikes and three to four punches before his partner finally got the handcuffs on. 

B.B. initially refused medical treatment but was later transported to hospital and diagnosed with a collapsed lung. He revealed he had consumed 0.2 grams of methamphetamine before he encountered police that night. 

Sakhi's partner notified a police sergeant that there had been a use of force incident. 

'This officer should have been facing termination' 

In a joint submission from presenting officer Derek Cranna and defence lawyer Mike Danyluik, it was suggested that, due to Sakhi's otherwise clean disciplinary record, he should be required to take additional use of force training and be docked 30 hours pay.

Fred Kamins, the presiding officer at the September hearing, called the excessive use of force "serious misconduct" and considered the 30-hour pay suspension to be on the lower end of the scale but agreed nonetheless to impose that penalty. 

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"I am prepared to accept the joint submission as it recognizes the officer's co-operation and not because it in any way reflects any suggestion that this incident was not as serious as any of the other cases," Kamins wrote. 

Defence lawyer Tom Engel called the punishment "grossly inadequate" and "completely unacceptable." 

Edmonton criminal defence lawyer Tom Engel believes the excessive force warranted criminal charges. (CBC)

"This officer should have been facing termination," Engel said. "There is a serious injury here and obviously no defence to the allegation of excessive force." 

Engel believes the file should have been forwarded to the Crown to consider criminally charging Sakhi. 

"Probably aggravated assault because the only way you can have a collapsed lung is if you have a broken rib which punctures the lung," Engel said. "There was no reason whatsoever for this officer to use any force at all. It was all under control by the other officer." 

Edmonton police spokesperson Scott Pattison confirmed the file was sent to the Crown for review and said the Calgary Crown did not recommend charges. 

The provincial director of law enforcement confirmed the office was notified about the incident but records show it directed Edmonton police to handle the investigation internally. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team was not involved. 

Sakhi, who has been with EPS since 2009, remains on active duty. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Johnston

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston