Three Calgary police officers are facing assault charges after the arrest of a man in July left him with broken ribs, a collapsed lung, cuts to his face and “significant bruising.” Two of the three are also facing charges of public mischief, after the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) investigation alleges the officers lied, saying the 34-year-old man resisted an officer when evidence shows he did not.
Calgary Police Chief Const. Roger Chaffin called the incident “most disappointing” and vowed to investigate and deal with the situation “in the most serious of fashions.”
Watch below: CPS Chief Constable Roger Chaffin says it’s a disappointing time for him and the service
“To suggest that a person committed an offence that they did not commit and potentially subject that person to the criminal justice process and potentially imprisonment, is extremely serious,” ASIRT executive director Sue Hughson said.
“So I consider the dishonesty and the charging of a person who did not commit an offence to be—by far—the more serious charges.”
Watch below: ASIRT considers the allegation that officers lied to be the worst aspect
Two officers had been relieved of their duties about a month after the incident, Calgary police said at the time. Two others were placed on administrative duties. One of the officers has since been designated a “witness officer” rather than a subject of the investigation and will not face criminal charges, Hughson said Wednesday.
Chaffin said Wednesday the three officers involved remain relieved from duty and he will review their status in the days and weeks to come.
“Calgarians can be assured they won’t be seeing these officers while this process is going on,” he said. “That’s not to convict them but that’s to say I see enough in this that I don’t believe that would be appropriate to have them out there.”
Nine-year member Const. James Othen is facing four charges, including assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and two counts of public mischief.
Global News has learned Othen has a restraining order against him, according to documents filed in Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench on Dec. 14, 2015.
Two-year member Const. Kevin Humfrey is facing one count of assault causing bodily harm and two counts of public mischief.
Const. Mike Sandalack, also a nine-year member, is facing one count of assault causing bodily harm.
Watch below: ASIRT executive director Sue Hughson explains what led to charges
The incident happened July 30 at around 8:50 p.m. when an officer followed a white SUV “with an obscured licence plate” into a parking lot and turned on the police vehicle’s emergency lights for a traffic stop. Police previously said it happened near the 6700 block of Macleod Trail S.
The driver, who ASIRT identified Wednesday as Clayton Prince, got out of his SUV and was chased by one of the officers, who was joined by other officers who’d been called in to help, ASIRT said in a past statement.
“After Mr. Prince had surrendered to police and was lying prone on the ground on his stomach, with his hands behind his head, it is alleged that the named officers committed an assault upon
Mr. Prince, both before and after he was handcuffed,” Hughson read from a statement Wednesday.
“Once Mr. Prince was placed, handcuffed, in the back of a marked police vehicle, it is alleged that Const. Othen reached into the vehicle and dug the point of a key into Mr. Prince’s neck behind his left ear, an area known to be vulnerable to pain compliance techniques, resulting in an injury that became infected and required additional treatment.”
Watch below: Sue Hughson, executive director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), speaks to media after three CPS members were charged.
Hughson said at the time, Prince was charged with one count of resisting Const. Othen in the lawful execution of his duty and one count of possession of a small amount of marijuana.
The Crown stayed those charges Aug. 29.
Othen and Humfrey have been charged with public mischief, with ASIRT alleging they made “false statements and reported Clayton Prince had committed the offence of resisting an officer, Const. Othen, in the lawful execution of his duty, when the offence had not been committed.”
Watch below: ‘The video is very important’: ASIRT
Hughson said a very short dashcam video of the incident is what initially raised concerns, but there are multiple pieces of evidence.
“All the witness officers cooperated, so there’s video, audio from another police car, video from another police car and a significant amount of eyewitness evidence,” she said. “All those pieces are fundamentally important. The importance of the video is that it’s what started or prompted or raised the concerns.”
She said the video would not be released, as the case is now before the courts.
“The officers have a right to their day in court rather than be tried in the court of public opinion on the basis of a very short video that doesn’t have the benefit of other evidence that provides some context to it.”
Watch below: ‘As soon as we saw it, it went to ASIRT’: Chief Constable Roger Chaffin on dashcam video
For his part, Chaffin said as soon as he watched the video a few weeks ago, it was handed over to ASIRT. He said allegations the camera had been turned off for a period of time during the incident were being looked into.
“It’s not representative of the kind of policing we’d expect in the city and it raised an enormous amount of questions about what happened there,” Chaffin said.
The chief said there’s no pattern of behaviours evident in the force to explain the recent ASIRT investigations involving Calgary police officers, but committed to holding people to account.
“My responsibility to the community is to make sure that when issues like this occur in policing that they are dealt with up front and they’re dealt with candidly and openly,” he said.
“Is it difficult? Yes. This certainly is not my best day, but it’s important for the health of policing moving forward.”
Watch below (Aug. 27): ASIRT is looking into a July incident where a man apparently sustained serious injuries in the course of an arrest. Four Calgary police officers are facing disciplinary action. Carolyn Kury de Castillo has more.
With files from Jodi Hughes