Police Act 'loophole' allows another officer to resign in face of disciplinary hearing
Video shows Const. Lindsay punching suspect in the head, kneeing him in the back
Another Calgary police officer — who was recently convicted of aggravated assault and had been facing two disciplinary hearings — has quit the service, dodging further allegations of misconduct.
Const. Trevor Lindsay's internal disciplinary hearing was to begin this fall in connection with the 2013 beating of a handcuffed Black man, Godfred Addai.
The case has become a rallying point in the Black Lives Matter movement amid heavy scrutiny of police reform and ongoing systemic racism in America.
Addai had been issued a ticket for public intoxication and dropped off far from home late at night in the dead of winter by one officer. Addai called 911 for help, and was beaten by the responding officer, Cont. Lindsay.
The beating was caught on police helicopter video.
Addai has said the beating reveals the same recursive patterns of oppression in Canada — and a failure of the legal system to deliver justice. In August, more than 100 Calgarians held a Black Lives Matter protest in solidarity with Addai and called for change within the city's police force.
Last year, Lindsay was convicted of aggravated assault for fracturing the head of another man, who was white, during a 2015 arrest in an unrelated incident. A disciplinary hearing had not yet been scheduled because Lindsay's criminal court case has not concluded.
He resigned on Friday.
Alberta is one of the few, if not the only, jurisdictions in the country where police officers can resign in the face of discipline and maintain a clean record if they haven't been charged and convicted criminally.
"What this means is no disciplinary hearing for Lindsay on Godfred's case due to a Police Act loophole that allows cops to evade accountability by resigning, something no other Alberta profession allows," said Addai's lawyer, Tom Engel, in a series of tweets.
- Six years after his violent arrest, Calgary man says he's still waiting for justice
- Calgary officer who fatally shot unarmed man resigns ahead of disciplinary hearing
Following the two internal hearings, a decision would have been made as to whether discipline was warranted up to and including dismissal.
"While officers can still face criminal charges after their employment ends, we do not have the authority under Alberta's Police Act to continue internal disciplinary proceedings when a police officer is no longer employed by the service," the Calgary Police Service said in a written statement.
Lindsay has yet to be sentenced for his June 2019 aggravated assault conviction. This week, prosecutor John Baharustani appeared before the trial judge to make arguments that he be allowed to call evidence from the attack on Addai on Dec. 28, 2013.
The assault on Addai was part of a recently aired documentary focused on alleged brutality and accountability issues within the Calgary Police Service. Above the Law, by filmmaker Marc Serpa Francoeur, broadcast on CBC in July and is available online for free through CBC Gem.
Baharustani told the judge he watched the video of the beating for the first time when he saw the documentary. The prosecutor indicated a plan to show the video. He also wants to call Addai to testify.
"When I saw that video … it struck me as evidence that may be helpful in terms of our matter," said Baharustani.
The prosecutor pointed out that "once again" this was a case of "Lindsay versus a handcuffed individual."
A six-day sentencing hearing has been set to begin next April.
On Dec. 28, 2013, after he was dropped off by police on a frigid winter night, far from his home, Lindsay was dispatched after Addai called 911 for help.
Two minutes after he arrived, Lindsay called for assistance. He said he had become involved in a "physical altercation" with Addai and had deployed his Taser.
Video from the CPS helicopter shows the incident as it unfolds.
A handcuffed Addai falls in the snow when Lindsay tries to drag him while handcuffed. Lindsay falls on top of him.
Lindsay can be seen punching Addai in the back of the head before repeatedly kneeing him in the back, head and neck.
Addai was charged with assaulting a peace officer but was acquitted at trial after the judge rejected the officers' version of events, saying he found no evidence the accused struck either officer.
Following the incident, Addai filed a complaint against CPS.
After prompting from Engel, the Law Enforcement Review Board launched an inquiry in 2018 to examine CPS's investigative process surrounding Addai's complaints.
That meant Lindsay's disciplinary hearing was put on hold but was slated to begin this fall.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is reviewing the investigation of the incident.
In court on Tuesday, Baharustani indicated he has been told by ASIRT to expect its investigative results later this month.
In May, another officer, Const. Maurice McLoughlin, quit the service after Chief Mark Neufeld sent his case to a disciplinary hearing.
McLoughlin shot Anthony Heffernan, 27, who was unarmed, four times on March 16, 2015, after police were called to a northeast hotel check on the victim.
The Criminal Trial Lawyers Association's police committee says it has asked the province to review the "escape route" when it reviews the Police Act.
In 2009, Engel sent a letter to the solicitor general asking for the "unacceptable gap" in the Police Act to be closed by the provincial government.
Engel says the Law Enforcement Review Board has also asked the government to change the practice.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.