Red Deer man appeals conviction citing RCMP violence

CBC News has obtained exclusive video footage of a physical altercation between Cory Nielsen and several RCMP officers inside the Red Deer detachment.

RCMP security footage shows altercation

Cory Nielsen, 30, was convicted of impaired driving and resisting a peace officer in a Red Deer court Wednesday, one year after he says he was assaulted by RCMP officers inside the Red Deer detachment. (CBC)

A Red Deer man says he has lost all trust in the RCMP after he was beaten up by an officer inside the detachment.

Cory Nielsen, 30, was arrested in December 2012 after RCMP member Const. Eric Pomerleau witnessed him run a red light.

Testifying that he smelled alcohol on Nielsen, and stating that Nielsen was slurring his speech, Pomerleau impounded Nielsen's vehicle and took him to the RCMP detachment for booking.

Hours later, and after providing a breath sample, Nielsen was asked to sign a number of documents before he was permitted to leave the station.

It was at this point that trouble began to develop.

In security footage obtained by CBC News, Nielsen is seen signing several documents handed to him by Pomerleau. At one point, however, he balks and reaches for his cell phone.

Outside of the court Wednesday, Nielsen said he wanted to speak to a lawyer before signing the final document but was not given the opportunity to do so.

At one point, Nielsen is seen backing away from the RCMP security desk and gets into an animated conversation with Pomerleau, gesturing in the air. He then returns to lean against the desk, crossing his legs.

Nielsen then appears to reach in front of Pomerleau, apparently pointing to one of the forms.

At this point, a second officer is visible walking from behind the desk, circling behind Nielsen, who backs up slightly.

Pomerleau is then seen grabbing Nielsen's arm, turning him toward the second officer. At this point, Pomerleau jumps onto Nielsen's back, using his weight to drag the accused to the floor.

In the ensuing altercation, the second officer removes both of Nielsen's shoes and is seen to deliver at least five punches to Nielsen's body.

More officers then rush in and move Nielsen from the detachment office to a holding cell.

Watch the full video below:

Security footage shows RCMP officers putting Cory Nielsen in a choke hold, knocking him to the floor and administering several punches to his mid-section and head.. 2:27

Conflicting testimony

Speaking in court last week, Pomerleau testified Nielsen refused to be released on the RCMP's terms, stating that the accused 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, 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, however, disagreed with this description when questioned outside of the courthouse on Wednesday.

"There was a brief point where the officer had taken my phone away from me and raised his voice with me and got me agitated and upset as well," he said.

"Then [Pomerleau] proceeded to grab my arm and twist it behind my back and jump on my back and try to put me in a rear naked choke hold and threw me down to the ground and delivered numerous blows to my mid-section and to my face, resulting in a cut below my eye and a bloody nose."

Throughout it all, Nielsen said he was keenly aware that the altercation was being filmed by security cameras in the detachment, so was holding himself back from retaliating.

"I'm usually pretty calm and collected when it comes to dealing with stuff like that but the way it had come about was very frustrating and upsetting to me," he said.

Pomerleau did not file a use of force report of the incident, testifying his commanding officer did not ask him to do so.

Charges to be appealed

Calling the RCMP's actions "gratuitous violence," Nielsen’s lawyer Deborah Hatch said she and her client will be appealing both the conviction and sentencing. (CBC)

Describing the officers' actions as excessive, gratuitous violence, Nielsen's lawyer Deborah Hatch argued her client was assaulted and then neglected while in the detachment.

"That is just wrong," she told the court, noting that Nielsen did not receive any medical treatment for his injuries following the altercation.

"It is never acceptable in a civilized society for the police to beat a man who is unarmed and not aggressive and not approaching the police in any sort of aggressive way and that's what happened in this case."

Calling the whole incident "shocking," Nielsen said "it was something you don't expect from authority figures especially in that position that I was in, dealing with them."

"It seems like they've started to believe that they're above the law, when in reality, I mean, they're just people too."

Presiding Judge Bert Skinner disagreed, however, stating the officers' use of force was not excessive and finding Nielsen guilty of impaired operation of a motor vehicle and with resisting a peace officer.

Nielsen has two prior impaired operation convictions – both of which occurred more than a decade ago.

A third charge blowing over the legal limit of 0.08 was dropped due to improper handling of documents.

Nielsen has been sentenced to a $1,500 fine for impaired driving but will not serve any jail time.

Notably, Skinner sentenced him to only a $10 fine for resisting, noting that Nielsen was merely failing to listen rather than attempting to engage or injure the involved officers.

Nielsen was also handed a one-year driving prohibition.

Speaking outside the courthouse, Nielsen and his lawyer were both noticeably disappointed and frustrated.

"I'm starting to lose my trust in [the RCMP]…," said Nielsen. "I don't feel that what happened was right and the ruling in the courts today was very disturbing and upsetting. It's hard to deal with."

Nielsen's lawyer has already filed an appeal on his conviction and sentence, which he says means more legal fees and time away from work.

None of the involved officers have been sanctioned.

With files from CBC's Janice Johnston


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