Edmonton

Crown admits Edmonton police used 'unnecessary force' in arrest of truck thief 

A Crown prosecutor admitted on Thursday that Edmonton police used "unnecessary force" during the June arrest — captured on civilian cellphone video —  of a truck thief who was kicked repeatedly and thrown head first into a brick wall after he was handcuffed.

Cellphone video captured officer kicking, slamming suspect head first into wall

A still image from one video shows Kyle Parkhurst surrounded by police officers during the arrest on June 11, 2019. (@spinspinsvgar/Twitter)

A Crown prosecutor admitted on Thursday that Edmonton police used "unnecessary force" during the June arrest — captured on civilian cellphone video —  of a truck thief who was kicked repeatedly and thrown head first into a brick wall after he was handcuffed.

Accepting a joint submission from the Crown and defence, a judge sentenced Kyle Parkhurst to three-and-a-half years in prison on 28 charges related to a methamphetamine-fuelled crime spree that involved fleeing from police in stolen vehicles. 

Parkhurst had originally faced 84 charges. With credit for time served, he will have about two-and-a-half years left in his sentence.

Crown prosecutor Thomas O'Leary told the court that during the June 11, 2019, arrest "police did use unnecessary force once (Parkhurst) was already in custody," and the Crown took that into account in the joint sentencing submission. 

Parkhurst, 26, had originally been charged with nine offences related to the June incident. His lawyer, Mark Jordan, previously told the court he would seek to have all nine charges stayed because his client's charter rights had been breached.

After extensive negotiations with the Crown, Parkhurst pleaded guilty to four lesser charges: possession of stolen property over $5,000; dangerous operation of a motor vehicle; driving while disqualified; and breach of recognizance. The dropped charges included flight from a peace officer and assaulting a peace officer with a weapon.

Witness cellphone videos showed an Edmonton police officer repeatedly kicking Parkhurst, and slamming the handcuffed prisoner headfirst into a brick wall before shoving him against a cruiser.

Kyle Parkhurst, 26, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison Thursday for a methamphetamine-fuelled crime spree that involved fleeing from police in stolen vehicles.  (Submitted by Arlene Tindall )

Security video subsequently obtained by CBC News showed the same officer striking Parkurst on the head with a handgun and another officer delivering an elbow smash to his head. The elbow smash was not referenced in an agreed statement of facts.

The security video also appeared to show an officer, who appeared to be a sergeant, turn and walk away from the scene as officers began to strike Parkhurst. An expert in use of force said it was troubling that none of the many officers at the scene tried to stop the excessive force being used on the prisoner.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) took over the investigation in July, one day after CBC News revealed Parkhurst alleged he had not received proper medical care for two weeks after the arrest. ASIRT has yet to complete its investigation.

The agreed statement of facts, entered into court Thursday, said a paramedic assessed Parkhurst and found no injuries that required further treatment. The document said Parkhurst's injuries included some redness, blood, and swelling to the right side of his face, as well as some bruising on his legs and back.

History of vehicle theft, dangerous driving

It took several minutes for the prosecutor to read into the court record the string of crimes committed by Parkhurst that eventually culminated in his arrest.

Parkhurst, who was suspended from driving in 2014, stole several vehicles and evaded police by driving dangerously, sometimes at high speed and on the wrong side of the road. In one incident, he rear-ended another vehicle with such force the female driver lost consciousness. Parkhurst fled the scene.

A video posted on Twitter shows a violent arrest made by Edmonton police on the evening of June 11, 2019. (@spinspinsvgar/Twitter)

On the evening of June 11, Parkhurst led police on a chase through downtown Edmonton in a stolen truck before he was cornered in an apartment parking lot. He repeatedly rammed police cruisers in an attempt to escape, but eventually gave up.  

The agreed statement of facts said as several officers approached Parkhurst, guns drawn, he opened the truck door, got out and turned away from the nearest approaching officer.

"That officer had his service pistol drawn in his right hand," the document said. "As the accused began to move away from the officer, the officer struck the accused with his right hand (while holding his service pistol) in the upper body/head area."

Officers forced Parkhurst to the ground, where he "began actively resisting by squirming and clenching his arms underneath his body, contrary to police direction," the document said. Officers had to use force and a Taser to gain control of Parkhurst.

The agreed statement of facts said Parkhurst was kicked and thrown face-first into the wall while handcuffed, and pushed against the cruiser.

No EPS officers were injured during the arrest.

After the judge read the joint sentencing submission into the court record, he told Parkhurst to stand and asked if he had anything to say before he was sentenced. His only comments referenced the woman injured in the rear-end crash.

"I'm sorry about that lady that I hurt," Parkhurst said.

About the Author

Charles Rusnell, Jennie Russell

Investigative reporters

Jennie Russell and Charles Rusnell are reporters with CBC Investigates, the award-winning investigative unit of CBC Edmonton. Their journalism in the public interest is widely credited with forcing accountability, transparency and democratic change in Alberta. Send tips in confidence to cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca. @charlesrusnell @jennierussell_