Calgary

'I'm somebody's daughter': Victim reacts after Calgary officer who threw her down convicted of assault

Nearly three years to the day after Dalia Kafi was injured by Calgary police Const. Alex Dunn, the officer has been found guilty of assault causing bodily harm for the violent takedown of the handcuffed woman after a judge rejected his evidence, finding it was "evasive and self-serving."

WARNING: This story contains disturbing video

Const. Alex Dunn arrested Dalia Kafi in 2017. She was thrown to the ground after ducking away from him as he tried to remove a scarf from her hair. Dunn has been found guilty of assault causing bodily harm for the violent takedown. (Court Exhibit)

Nearly three years to the day after Dalia Kafi was injured by Calgary police Const. Alex Dunn, the officer has been found guilty of assault causing bodily harm for the violent takedown of the handcuffed woman after a judge rejected his evidence, finding it was "evasive and self-serving."

Dunn, 34, was charged after Kafi's 2017 arrest. CCTV video from the arrest processing unit shows Dunn throwing Kafi down face-first, while she was handcuffed.

"I feel great about today's news," Kafi said Thursday in a phone interview with CBC News after Thursday's verdict.

"Most importantly, so no other female can go through what I've been through … I'm somebody's daughter and I'm also a human being."

Provincial court Judge Michelle Christopher rejected Dunn's defence that Kafi was able to grab his wrist while cuffed, pointing out that the video doesn't show such an action.

"It seems Const. Dunn simply lost his temper in the moment," said Christopher. "I do not believe Ms. Kafi grabbed Const. Dunn's wrist."

WATCH | CCTV video below of Const. Alex Dunn throwing Dalia Kafi face-first, while handcuffed, on the cement floor:

Calgary police officer on trial for assaulting handcuffed woman he threw to the ground

CBC News Calgary

4 months ago
1:03
In this court evidence from Dec.13, 2017, Dalia Kafi was arrested by Const. Dunn for breaching her curfew. At the arrest processing unit, Kafi says she backed away from Dunn when he attempted to remove her headscarf. Dunn can then be seen throwing the handcuffed woman to the ground face first. 1:03

Kafi's head can be seen bouncing off the concrete floor and, according to prosecutor Ryan Pollard, she needed surgery for a broken nose and stitches in her lip. 

One police officer with 30 years of experience who witnessed the "judo-style takedown" testified it was the "worst use of force" he'd ever seen.

The trial took place in October, and after Christopher released the video, it went viral — viewed more than 13 million times around the world.

But while Pollard called the video the "most compelling piece of evidence" during closing arguments, Dunn's lawyer, Cory Wilson, cautioned the judge against considering it frame-by-frame because "life is not experienced in slow motion or freeze frame."

Dunn is also under an internal investigation by the Calgary Police Service (CPS) after CBC News received a photo of the constable in blackface at a 2012 Halloween party.

In 2016, he pleaded guilty to two charges of insubordination for breaching CPS policies related to accessing a civilian's information for personal reasons and the home storage of his service firearm. He was docked four days' pay.

Kafi arrested at traffic stop 

Kafi is Black. There was no evidence presented at trial that the use of force was racially motivated.

On Dec. 13, 2017, Kafi and her friends were pulled over by police during a traffic stop.

Kafi was taken into custody by Dunn for breaching a court-imposed curfew.

Once at the arrest processing unit, Kafi was ordered to stand against a wall to have her photo taken.

There, Dunn reached to remove her hair scarf for the photo. 

Kafi — who was handcuffed — ducked away from him twice.

Dunn was on trial for assault causing bodily harm for the violent takedown captured in a video that has gone viral. (Colin Hall/CBC)

Dunn testified that while handcuffed, Kafi was able to reach behind her back and grab at his hand.

Pollard, the prosecutor, said that action "defies physics," an argument Christopher agreed with.

"She could not physically grab Dunn's shoulder," the judge found. "She does not contort her body or lift her feet in any way to be able to reach his wrist."

Dunn said he felt threatened, that Kafi had grabbed his wrist, and he assumed she'd slipped her handcuffs and would be able to use them as a swinging weapon against him.

He testified he felt the "dynamic takedown" was necessary but said he didn't mean to throw her down face-first.

Dunn and his lawyer shook their heads throughout the judge's two-hour decision, signalling their disagreement with the judge's findings.

"There's no doubt there's a visceral reaction from watching this video, and we never have a problem if our clients get convicted but when they're properly convicted," said Wilson outside after the decision.

Dunn's lawyer, Cory Wilson, says he will appeal the judge's decision. (Carolyn Dunn)

"We have significant concern … about a lot of these findings of fact, which is why you saw both our heads shaking throughout it, because we're unfortunately mystified how we ended up where we were."

The judge said she was "troubled" by Dunn's notes of the event, which she described as "inaccurate," "incomplete" and "troubling" as they "could be intended to bolster his narrative."

"The video of Constable Alex Dunn is very difficult to watch," said CPS in a written statement. "The criminal trial is not the only step in the accountability process for this incident."

Dunn will now be the subject of an internal investigation where penalties up to and including dismissal are possible.

At the moment, Dunn is assigned to administrative duties with CPS but the service says his status is under review in light of Thursday's conviction.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.

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