Edmonton

Eric Pomerleau, RCMP officer caught on video punching man, under investigation

RCMP are investigating a constable caught on video for the second time using physical force on detainees at the Red Deer, Alta., detachment following a CBC News story.

Judge mentions excessive use of force when overturning man's convictions for impaired driving, resisting

Const. Eric Pomerleau faces assault charges following an incident at the Red Deer RCMP detachment in August 2012. (CBC )

The RCMP are investigating a constable caught on video for the second time using physical force against a detainee at the Red Deer, Alta., detachment after the CBC published videos of the incident.

"The RCMP have seen the videos that CBC posted this morning," said Insp. Gibson Glavin. "We have great concern at what's depicted. 

"We need to get to the bottom of exactly what was going on there. We recognize the public deserves to know exactly what's gone on there."

On Dec. 17, 2012, Const. Eric Pomerleau was caught on video punching Cory Nielsen and throwing him to the ground at the Red Deer.

The confrontation occurred after Pomerleau  witnessed Nielsen running a red light. Nielsen was charged with impaired driving and resisting a peace officer, but those convictions were overturned on appeal last month.

In issuing his decision, Court of Queen's Bench Justice John Little remarked on the excessive use of force used by police the night of Nielsen's arrest. 

When CBC first reported the story last year, Deborah Hatch, Nielsen's lawyer, was contacted by a second lawyer who had a videotape of Pomerleau using force on another person in custody, this time a teenager.

"That video shows Const. Pomerleau coming into the cell and brutally slamming this young person's head repeatedly into a cement floor leaving him lying in a pool of his own blood," Hatch said.

The videos reveal a pattern of behaviour that the RCMP should have already dealt with, she said.

RCMP found no reason to discipline Pomerleau after the incident involving Nielsen, but once it saw the new videos Friday morning, an investigation was ordered, Glavin said. The new videos are dated August 19, 2012, four months before the incident with Nielsen. 

But Hatch still wants the RCMP public complaints commission to investigate Pomerleau.

"Police have to investigate not only whether disciplinary proceedings are appropriate," Hatch said, "but as in any other case where you have video that shows somebody gratuitously beating somebody else, who's not even fighting back, you have to consider criminal charges."

Glavin said the force will also review the appeal judge's comments.

"If a conviction had been overturned for that reason, it would be cause for concern," he said.

Pomerleau remains on active duty. Pomerleau had previously testified that at the time of the incident at the Red Deer detachment with Nielsen, that Nielsen appeared angry, which prompted him to grab hold of Nielsen's arm, intending to turn and handcuff him.

Pomerleau said Nielsen resisted throughout the altercation and that his body was tense. He said punching Nielsen in the stomach was an attempt to "stun" him but that the attempt was unsuccessful.

Nielsen has rejected Pomerleau's version of what transpired. In court, his lawyer described Pomerleau's actions as excessive, gratuitous violence.

With files from Janice Johnston