Edmonton police officer charged with obstruction of justice
A sergeant with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) who has 24 years of experience is facing charges that include obstruction of justice after an investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT).
The province’s police watchdog was directed to investigate a “serious and sensitive allegation of obstruction of justice” on Feb. 17, 2017.
It’s alleged a police officer was at an Emergency Protection Order hearing and misrepresented the status of a police investigation. A protection order was put in place against one of the parties, but ASIRT said the officer who attended court was not part of the investigation in any official capacity.
ASIRT executive director Susan Hughson said she couldn’t expand on what the court case surrounded, but called it a “quasi-criminal family matter.”
“We have to remember that there is a family at the centre of this with a child involved, so I’m not going to get in to any of the circumstances,” she said.
The investigation led ASIRT to allege the officer attempted to block an EPS professional standards investigation into the incident and accessed two police databases in the course of committing the offences.
“You may have lawful access for certain purposes to certain databases, but when you access for a purpose that you’re not lawfully entitled, you would be committing that offence,” Hughson said.
The EPS said no comment would be provided to the media, but it did issue a short statement.
“The EPS and our community rightfully hold our police officers to the highest standards,” Chief Rod Knecht said in a statement.
“Any violation of these standards is completely unacceptable.”
Sgt. Kevin Fald is facing two counts each of obstruction of justice and unauthorized use of a computer. A statement from the EPS says he has been removed from duty without pay pending the outcome of the criminal charges and proceedings.
ASIRT is called in to investigate any incident involving law enforcement when someone is killed or injured, or when a criminal offence may have been committed, but Hughson said charging an officer is “more exceptional” than common.
“It’s very uncommon,” she said. “In the majority of the cases we can conclusively clear officers and demonstrate that they were acting lawfully and properly in the course of their duties. That’s the vast majority of the cases that we do.”
Hughson also said the investigation took longer than expected because they needed to make sure they could get all possible evidence, and they had some “difficulty” with a particular witness.
“It took some additional time that we would have otherwise not chosen to take.”
Fald has been released on a promise to appear and is scheduled to be back in Edmonton Provincial Court on March 16.
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