'Hands up, buddy. You're going to die': Violent Edmonton arrest under investigation
Video shows police striking suspect and smashing his head against wall
The conduct of a group of Edmonton police officers is being questioned after a video posted online appears to show an officer repeatedly kicking a suspect before slamming him head first into a wall.
The Edmonton Police Service professional standards branch is investigating the arrest, which was captured from above by a citizen in a nearby apartment on June 11.
A two-minute, 20-second video posted to Twitter shows six uniformed officers take down a suspect in the parking lot of an apartment building near 106th Street and 99th Avenue.
The 26-year-old man was allegedly driving a stolen Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck, EPS spokesperson Cheryl Sheppard said in a news release Tuesday afternoon.
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The stolen truck was first observed near 109th Street and 105th Avenue at about 9:45 p.m. before entering a criminal flight, Sheppard said.
Once in the apartment parking lot, the truck was seen running into civilian and police vehicles, Sheppard said.
The expletive-laden video shows officers use their cruisers to box in the pickup before surrounding it on foot, with guns drawn.
One officer can be heard yelling "Hands up, buddy. You're going to die." The suspect is also called an "asshole" and "f---ing piece of shit."
The suspect gets out of the truck before being tackled to the sidewalk along the wall of the apartment building.
Police used a Taser on the suspect, Sheppard said. It could be heard in the now-deleted video, along with the man's shouts.
Edmonton criminal defence lawyer Tom Engel, whose work focuses on police abuse, said what happened next is a clear example of an officer using excessive force.
A video posted online appears to show an Edmonton police officer repeatedly kicking a suspect before slamming him head first into a wall. Warning graphic video. <br><br>Full story: <a href="https://t.co/jX0AbtwKC8">https://t.co/jX0AbtwKC8</a> <a href="https://t.co/qICEhMcDdt">pic.twitter.com/qICEhMcDdt</a>—@CBCEdmonton
With the suspect still on the ground, an officer with a bald head looks over his shoulders — right, left, then right again — then appears to kick the man three times.
An awning on the side of the building partially obscures the camera's view, so it's unclear if the blows were delivered to the suspect.
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"There appears to be no excuse, no reason for that kind of force," Engel said.
The video shows the same officer pull the suspect to his feet and smash his head against the brick wall. It's unclear if the man was handcuffed, though his hands appear to be behind his back.
"Again, there can't be any legal justification for that kind of force. So again, it would appear to be criminal use of force," Engel said.
The officer then walks the handcuffed suspect to a police car and shoves the man's body against it.
"If this individual was so dangerous that it warranted this kind of force, why is he alone with this individual? It doesn't make any sense. Obviously, he's of no so-called 'officer safety risk,'" Engel said.
"It doesn't appear that this individual is resisting at all. He's walking ahead of this officer. And so that would be another illegal use of force."
Those other officers were standing by and watching their fellow officer being brutal to this man.- Tom Engel, criminal defence lawyer
Based on the language used by police in the video, Engel said it seems the interaction was fuelled by anger and got out of control as a result.
"That is completely unprofessional, unnecessary, and looks very bad on the Edmonton Police Service that they would call somebody these sorts of names gratuitously," he said. "It kind of shows you what they think of people they're dealing with — it's almost like dehumanizing the person."
The suspect is in custody until July 5, police said. He has been charged with:
- Flight from peace officer
- Dangerous operation of a vehicle
- Possession of stolen property over $5,000
- Operation while prohibited
- Assault peace officer with a weapon
- Obstructing a peace officer
- Breach of recognizance (three counts)
Engel said it would make sense for the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team to investigate instead of the EPS professional standards branch, as ASIRT focuses on serious allegations of police misconduct.
The officer who shoved the suspect should be taken off patrol while the investigation is underway, Engel said.
"It's not just this [one] officer," he said. "There are other officers using force. And those other officers were standing by and watching their fellow officer being brutal to this man. And they didn't do anything to stop it, and they have a duty to stop it."
Sheppard said Monday the professional standards branch is reviewing the incident, the arrest and the video.
"Due to the use of force, the EPS contacted the Director of Law Enforcement, who instructed the EPS to continue the investigation," Sheppard added in Tuesday's news release. "The EPS was also made aware of the video on Twitter that same day, and PSB was contacted to initiate a review of the incident, which now continues."