Victim of police violence believes mistreatment racially motivated, judge hears at cop's sentencing hearing
Former Calgary officer Trevor Lindsay convicted of aggravated assault 2 years ago
After listening to him beg three 911 operators for help after being dumped by police on unfamiliar empty streets in the dead of winter, it's difficult to imagine the situation could get worse for Godfred Addai-Nyamekye.
But it did.
The cruel treatment of Addai-Nyamekye, who is Black, escalated through the night of Dec. 28, 2013.
It is now the focus of former Calgary police constable Trevor Lindsay's aggravated assault sentencing hearing.
Lindsay was convicted two years ago of the 2015 beating of Daniel Haworth, who suffered a brain injury and skull fracture after the officer punched him in the head four times before throwing the handcuffed arrestee head first onto the pavement.
Haworth and Addai-Nyamekye have no connection to each other besides Lindsay.
Haworth is dead. He died of a drug overdose months after he was injured in the parking lot of the arrest processing unit. His brother said he was never the same after the assault.
Criminal charges were never laid against Lindsay for his use of force against Addai-Nyamekye, but he did face charges under the Alberta Police Act until he quit the service last year ahead of a disciplinary hearing.
Prosecutor John Baharustani called Addai-Nyamekye to testify Tuesday as part of what's called a Gardiner hearing.
Baharustani wants Court of Queen's Bench Justice Michael Lema to find that Lindsay's punches and knee strikes to Addai-Nyamekye was an assault, which would make it an aggravating factor that could mean an increase in sentence for the former officer's assault on Haworth.
Lema will hear more evidence and arguments before making a ruling.
On the night of Dec. 28, 2013, Addai-Nyamekye, who was sober, was driving his intoxicated friends home. Their vehicle got stuck in the snow and despite several attempts to push it out, the group of friends was unable to.
Police, who were nearby, turned up and ordered the men to get the car off the street. They refused to help push, according to Addai-Nyamekye, who said to the officers, "if you can't help, leave us alone."
Maybe it was because he was "lippy," Addai-Nyamekye surmised, or, he said, maybe the officers felt disrespected. Either way, they pushed Addai-Nyamekye to the ground and handcuffed him before loading him into a police van.
He wasn't under arrest, he wasn't given a ticket, he wasn't given a reason.
The officers then drove Addai-Nyamekye away from his home to the cold, dark and empty streets of Calgary's East Village. It was an area Addai-Nyamekye was completely unfamiliar with.
"Beat it," one of the officers told him before driving away.
'I need help'
Addai-Nyamekye was wearing a track suit. He had no hat and no gloves. He says he was freezing.
"I was feeling upset, I was scared, I was angry and I just couldn't believe they would do that to me," he said in his testimony Tuesday.
His phone was dead but Addai-Nyamekye happened to have his friend's cell. Although he didn't know the password and couldn't call a taxi, he was able to make an emergency call to 911.
Two operators dismissed his pleas for help, telling him to call a cab.
Then, Addai-Nyamekye reached a third operator. The call was played in court.
"They just left me here to freeze," he says. "I don't drink, I'm not a criminal … I'm not drunk, I'm not stupid. I work, I pay taxes.
"I'm not a bad guy. I go to school. I need help."
'Just because I'm Black doesn't mean I'm bad'
It's clear on the call that Addai-Nyamekye is freezing. He's breathing heavily.
The operator says help is on the way and asks Addai-Nyamekye what he looks like so the responding officer can identify him. Addai-Nyamekye says he's Black.
Then: "Just because I'm Black doesn't mean I'm bad."
"That's not the situation, there's no racial undertones here," says the operator in response.
"No, that's what it is … they drove past my house and dropped me off here, that's what it is."
Then at the end of the call, Lindsay can be heard swearing at Addai-Nyamekye as the officer arrives on scene.
"Stop f--king calling 911," Addai-Nyamekye says Lindsay told him.
Video taken from the CPS helicopter shows the violence that follows.
Addai-Nyamekye says Lindsay pushed him to the ground. He then used his taser on Addai-Nyamekye before punching and kicking Addai-Nyamekye.
Lindsay put Addai-Nyamekye in handcuffs and then dragged him and threw him down again.
"He told me to shut the fuck up, he was going to kill me," Addai-Nyamekye testified.
"I was scared for my life."
Addai-Nyamekye says he still suffers from chronic pain and PTSD related to the incident.
Defence lawyer Don MacLeod will now cross examine Addai-Nyamekye.
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.