Indigenous man testifies he was repeatedly beaten by Edmonton police officers

Eliot McLeod told an Edmonton court Monday that he panicked as police officers repeatedly beat him, even after he was in handcuffs.

Court views citizen’s video of officer driving knee into prone man’s back 

An arrest Const. Michael Partington was a part of was filmed. That video played in court Monday. (Submitted)

Eliot McLeod told Edmonton provincial court Monday that he panicked as police officers repeatedly beat him, even after he was in handcuffs.

McLeod testified on the first day of the judge-alone trial of Edmonton police Const. Michael Partington. He is facing a single charge of assault related to an August 2019 incident. 

McLeod said he was riding his bike on a sidewalk on an inner city street when a police cruiser pulled alongside and the officer asked his name. He gave a false name before fleeing on the bike.

The cruiser mounted a curb directly in front of McLeod who flew off his bike and landed on the front lawn of a house. 

McLeod said he was lying face down when Const. Curtis McCargar jumped on him and punched him four to eight times in the back of the head. 

"I was just trying to get my hands behind my back because I knew I was done," McLeod told the court. 

"They were good shots. They stung me and I was afraid right away because I wasn't expecting it."

Citizen video captures knee strike

McLeod said McCargar put him in the back of the cruiser, then accused him of spitting on him, took him out of the cruiser and starting punching him again while he was cuffed. He said he jumped forward onto the ground to try to protect his head.

At that moment, a second cruiser arrived, which is when Tyler Eaglespeaker began recording with his cell phone from the front door of his family's house.

Watch | Bystander's video shows McLeod's violent arrest:

Crown investigating Edmonton Police Service arrest video

3 years ago
Duration 1:42
A video circulating on social media shows an Edmonton police officer dropping his knee into the back of a man lying on the ground in August 2019.

Eaglespeaker's video, recorded in three sections, was played in court.

On one video, a second officer — Partington — was shown quickly walking up and abruptly driving his knee into the middle of McLeod's back. 

McLeod screams in pain and begs them, "Please stop, please stop, oh God."

An officer is heard yelling, "Don't run from police," and a second officer says, "Did you think I would not catch you, you fat f--k?"

A second portion of the video shows the two officers hauling a handcuffed McLeod to his feet and McCargar punches McLeod in the back of the neck before shoving him into the cruiser's back seat.

Eaglespeaker testified that he saw McLeod's hands behind his back before the knee drop.  He said McLeod was not struggling or resisting and he did not hear McLeod threaten either or both officers. He said he stopped recording when he realized the officers had seen him.

He forwarded the videos to a friend who posted them on social media. He said he didn't report it to the police because he didn't want to get involved. His friend provided the videos to Edmonton police.

Defence lawyer Mike Danyluk established several inconsistencies in McLeod's story, but he did not challenge the fact that Partington had violently kneed McLeod in the back. 

Danyluk suggested the video showed McLeod had not been handcuffed until after Partington delivered the knee strike.

An acting sergeant called to the scene testified that McCargar told her he had used force on McLeod, which necessitated a report. Partington however, did not report his knee strike to her.

McLeod was initially charged with resisting arrest and uttering death threats. He said before the video surfaced, he was offered a deal of three months in jail and his lawyer recommended that he take it. 

He said he refused because he knew he was innocent. The charges were subsequently dropped.

The professional standards branch began its investigation after they received a copy of the video in late August 2019. They referred the investigation to Crown prosecutors in March 2020. 

The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service recommended a criminal charge be laid against Partington on June 12 — less than a week after the arrest video circulated online.

McCargar was never charged.

The trial, scheduled for five days, continues Tuesday.


Charles Rusnell

Former investigative reporter

Charles Rusnell was a reporter with CBC Investigates, the investigative unit of CBC Edmonton, from 2008 until 2021. His journalism in the public interest is widely credited with forcing accountability, transparency and democratic change in Alberta.