Calgary officer sentenced to 90 days in jail for violent 2016 arrest
Const. James Othen guilty of assault causing bodily harm and assault with weapon
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.
- Calgary police officer convicted of assault after man badly injured during violent arrest
- Calgary officer on trial for assault testifies he was in 'fight of my life' during violent arrest
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.
- MORE CALGARY NEWS | Still no money for Deerfoot Trail after 'affordable' fixes identified
- MORE CALGARY NEWS | More than 2,500 volunteers clean up Calgary parks and pathways
With files from Meghan Grant