Police investigate officer over alleged assault on teen
An Edmonton teenager alleges one of his neighbours assaulted him in his Riverbend neighbourhood Saturday night, a man he has since learned is an Edmonton police detective.
Austin Walters, 14, told CBC News on Wednesday that he was out for a walk with his friends when the alleged assault occurred.
Walters admitted he and his friends pulled a prank on one of their buddies by ringing the doorbell and running away.
When they stopped in the driveway of another house to talk, they heard a door unlock. The teens scattered and ran away but the man who came out of the house got into the car and "chased" him to a school parking lot, Walters said.
"[He] got out of his car and chased me down saying that I stole his kid's bike.… I'm not sure what he was talking about," Walters said.
"He punched me in the face and in the back of the head a bunch of times … and slapped me in the back of the head as well. Then he put me in a headlock and threw me to the ground and pinned me face-down and kind of held me there and took the back of my head and forced it back and forth on the ground on the pavement.
"He's swearing at me. Just keeps repeating that I stole, he thought I was going to steal his kid's bike."
The man then allegedly told Walters he'd kill him and his family if he ever came near his house again, Walters said. He said he never heard the man identify himself as a police officer.
Walters went home with blood on his face. His mother, Rocelyn Walters, found him in the garage. She said he also had a mark on his neck.
"He was very, very scared," she said. "Visibly shaking. Heart racing … out of breath. He said, 'Mom, I thought I was going to die.' He said, 'I got beat up, Mom, by a big monster.' "
The family called police and Austin Walters was taken to hospital by ambulance over concerns he might have suffered a concussion. He was checked out and sent home.
The next morning, a friend told Rocelyn Walters the man who allegedly attacked her son is an Edmonton police officer.
Detective upset, wants to meet family: police union
The officer at the centre of the allegations, Det. Todd Jones, initially agreed to tell his version of events to CBC News on Wednesday in an interview arranged through the president of the Edmonton Police Association, Sgt. Tony Simioni.
However, Jones reconsidered and the interview did not take place. CBC then requested a written statement from Jones but that was not received by Thursday morning.
Simioni confirmed that Jones admitted to chasing Walters down and using force.
Jones has been a police officer for more than a dozen years and is a member of the drug and gang unit. Simioni said Jones is upset about what happened and concerned about Walters's injuries.
"There was no intent to inflict that kind of damage," Simioni said Thursday. "I know that from talking extensively to Det. Jones. I know what kind of a police officer Det. Jones is. He's an outstanding police officer. No record of this kind of thing, ever, in his past."
Both Jones and the police association want to meet with the Walters family to explain his view of what happened. Jones reacted out of his instincts as a police officer to an incident he thought was happening at his house, Simioni said.
"This is not the desired result and if that is what happened to that child, and obviously it is, we're sorry for that. We want to try to make amends in whatever way we can," Simioni said.
An Edmonton police spokesperson has confirmed Jones is now the subject of an internal affairs investigation.
The Walters family has retained a lawyer and both Austin and his mother have been interviewed by a police detective.
Rocelyn Walters is trying to come to terms with what happened to her son.
"I'm appalled at it," she said. "Not troubled boys. Never in trouble. Great kids. Good marks in school. They're just all-around good boys."
Walters has been told that police Chief Mike Boyd has been made aware of the allegations. Boyd will not comment while the investigation is underway.
With files from Janice Johnston