Ear torn and ribs fractured during arrest by Edmonton police, court hears

An Edmonton man whose criminal trial wrapped up this week says his charter rights were violated during a violent arrest that left him with fractured ribs and a ripped ear that had to be "glued" back on.

Crown prosecutor argued reasonable force was used to arrest Duane Laver who admits to criminal flight

Assistant chief judge Larry Anderson will hand down his decision on July 23. (Josee St-Onge/CBC)

An Edmonton man whose criminal trial wrapped up this week says his charter rights were violated during a violent arrest that left him with fractured ribs and a ripped ear that had to be "glued" back on.

In a charter application filed in Edmonton provincial court, Duane Laver, 40, said he was pepper sprayed and struck multiple times after he was placed in handcuffs last November.

Defence lawyer David Wolsey argued for a stay of proceedings. He said if the court does not find his client's constitutional rights were breached then Laver should be given a reduced sentence of 311 days, equal to the time he has already served in remand.

"A stay would be warranted to send a message to (the Edmonton police service) that this is not the type of conduct that is acceptable," Wolsey said Wednesday during closing arguments. "It's shocking to say the least."

Crown prosecutor Ian Elford argued that police used the appropriate amount of force to arrest Laver, who was unwilling to surrender. 

"He exaggerated the force used, he exaggerated the injuries he received," said Elford, who asked for a total sentence of 32 months. 

Laver pleaded guilty to criminal flight, possession of a stolen vehicle and disqualified driving. He is also charged with several other offences, including resisting arrest, hit and run, possession of a dangerous weapon and possession of stolen property.

Assistant chief judge Larry Anderson is expected hand down his decision on July 23.

Ear glued in place

On Nov. 19, 2018, police tried to pull over Laver, who was driving with a passenger in a stolen Buick Enclave, according to the charter application.

Laver fled for a few blocks before hitting a curb and losing control. The SUV struck two vehicles and a street light near 106th Street and 107th Avenue.

Laver fled on foot until an officer drew his pistol and ordered him to the ground, the court document said.

"He was placed into handcuffs, after which he was pepper sprayed and struck multiple times by the attending officers," the charter application said. "He was struck all over his body, including a closed fist to the face."

Laver alleged the abuse continued after he was put into a police van.

"EPS members continued to punch and kick him. One officer was dropping his knees on the applicant's chest. The applicant lost consciousness briefly," the court document said.

Laver said the arrest left him with cut fingers, bruises and two fractured ribs. 

During treatment at the Misericordia Hospital, Laver's ear had to be "glued in place," the application said

Laver also accuses police of denying him the right to counsel.

Officer denies striking suspect

On Wednesday, the last of four police witnesses testified. 

Const. Andrew Jarvis said he and his partner and other officers responded to a call of an officer in distress. Jarvis said by the time he arrived, Const. James Wirrell had already arrested Laver and deployed pepper spray.

Jarvis said Laver was resisting arrest, so he used a wrist lock to walk him to a waiting police van, where he was put in head first. He denied that he threw Laver into the van, or struck him.

"I remember I did not strike Mr. Laver," said Jarvis.

"Is it possible some of those other officers punched and kicked Mr. Laver?" Wosley asked. 

"It is possible," Jarvis replied.

Officer feared suspect was armed

In his closing argument, Elford said Wirrell used reasonable force during the arrest, which involved a lengthy struggle. Wirrel was on his own at the time and feared Laver could have a weapon in his bag, the prosecutor said. 

Elford pointed to Laver's lengthy criminal history, which dates back to 1999 and includes convictions of criminal flight, dangerous driving, resisting a peace officer and possession of a controlled substance and firearm.

A Gladue report submitted to the court highlighted Laver's problems with addiction, time spent in group homes and physical abuse endured as a child.

Before the proceedings wrapped up, Laver stood up in the prisoner's box to address the court. 

He said he has attended six months of a voluntary boot camp in the remand centre, which combines military drills with self-improvement programs in areas such as parenting, substance abuse and anger management.

"I'm actively trying to change my life, which I hope would show the court treatment and rehabilitation would be the best sentence I could get," said Laver.

Edmonton police declined to comment while the case is before the courts.