Calgary

Witness shocked at force used by Calgary police dealing with sleeping man

Forbes Blain did not see the entire incident, but he’s wondering what could possibly have justified the force used by Calgary police in responding to a man who was minutes earlier sleeping outside of a southwest convenience store.

Criminologist says multiple punches appropriate due to lack of co-operation

A witness to a Calgary police incident is wondering what could have justified a sleeping man being punched nine times and Tasered. 0:53

Forbes Blain did not see the entire incident, but he's wondering what could possibly have justified the force used by Calgary police in responding to a man who was minutes earlier sleeping outside of a southwest convenience store.

A little after 11 p.m. Thursday, Blain had noticed a man sleeping next to the 7-Eleven adjacent to his apartment. Blain had ordered food through a delivery service and picked it up in the parking lot.

"For hours he had been out there asleep on his sleeping bag. I don't know if he was intoxicated, but he was very lethargic," Blain told CBC News.

'I heard this screaming'

About 20 minutes later back in his apartment, he heard a commotion.

"I was in bed and I heard this screaming coming from the alley," Blain said.

"I jumped up out of bed and I ran to the window to see what was going on. There are these two cops manhandling this guy, who I had just seen asleep 20 minutes ago."

Blain hit record on his phone.

The video shows what appears to be two officers on top of a man who is not complying with their commands.

One officer appears to strike the man nine times, threatens him with a Taser and then Tasers him.

More police officers show up over a period of minutes.

Blain said the incident made it difficult to sleep afterward.

"I didn't know what to think about the whole thing. I had never seen anything like that before," he said.

"I have seen people be arrested, but I have never seen anyone beaten like that for no reason."

Police actions 'controlled, professional': criminologist

After viewing the video, a criminologist said it doesn't appear to be a good example of excessive force.

"It looks like the police acted in a very controlled, professional way," said Kelly Sundberg, an associate professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

"Although there were some strikes made, it seemed they were used to gain compliance, not for retribution or intent to cause the person unnecessary pain."

In an email to CBC News, Calgary police spokesperson Corwin Odland said officers allege the man did not respond when they attempted to speak with him and then quickly became "assaultive."

Police also say the man in the video has been charged with one count of assaulting a police officer.

About the Author

David Bell

Web Journalist

David Bell was the first graduate of Mount Royal University's Bachelor of Communication in Journalism program in June 2009. He has worked full time ever since in print, radio, television and now online. As a Video Journalist based in Moncton, N.B., his work was regularly featured on a national news channel. He brought that experience to the CBC Calgary digital team in 2015.

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