Calgary officer sentenced to 90 days in jail for violent 2016 arrest

Calgary police officer, James Othen, guilty of assault in the violent 2016 arrest of Clayton Prince was sentenced to 90 days incarceration by Judge Margaret Keelaghan on Monday.

Const. James Othen guilty of assault causing bodily harm and assault with weapon

James Othen was found guilty of assault in February in relation to the 2016 arrest of Clayton Prince. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

A Calgary police officer guilty of assault in the violent 2016 arrest of Clayton Prince was sentenced to 90 days in jail by Judge Margaret Keelaghan on Monday. 

When delivering her decision at the Calgary Courts Centre, Keelaghan said the sentence should "send a message that the type of conduct in this case will attract serious consequences."

Keelaghan, who accepted that Othen was "genuine" in his remorse, said police officers enjoy a special status in our community and represent our justice system. 

She said Othen's actions "undermine the public confidence in police, and, in the end, the rule of law."

Although Keelaghan did not accept that all of Prince's injuries were Othen's doing, she said one that she believed was inflicted by him — by digging a key into the back of the suspect's neck — was "inflicted on a helpless man, handcuffed in the back of a police car."

James Othen will serve his sentence intermittently on weekends, beginning May 25.

Jail time 'more difficult' for police

Keelaghan said she took into consideration the fact that Othen is a police officer and his time in jail will be "more difficult" as he will require additional protection. He will have to be kept away from the general population. 

Othen's lawyer, Alain Hepner, said it's always difficult when a police officer is sentenced for any offence, and said his client is feeling the "stress and pressure" of that. 

"He's trying to be strong and courageous and we will deal with it," he said. 

When Othen is not in jail, he will be out on probation. Othen was also ordered to submit a sample of his DNA and to dispose of his hunting rifle due to a two-year weapons prohibition imposed by the judge.

Suspect was unarmed

Prince was unarmed when he was arrested by Calgary Police Service constables Othen, Kevin Humfrey and Michael Sandalack in July 2016.

The arrest happened after Prince ran from police during a traffic stop because, he says, he was paranoid after taking cocaine and marijuana and had been driving without a licence.

Prince suffered multiple serious injuries, including a collapsed lung and broken ribs. He testified he was hospitalized for five days.

Othen, 40, was found guilty in February of assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon, while Humfrey and Sandalack were acquitted of all charges by Keelaghan.

Othen has been suspended from the Calgary Police Service, without pay, since January 2017 pending an internal investigation. Now that the criminal procedures have come to a close, the internal investigation can begin.


Lucie Edwardson


Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson or reach her by email at

With files from Meghan Grant