Witness, criminal lawyer concerned over violent arrest made by Edmonton police officer

Click to play video: 'Video of violent arrest has Edmontonians talking'
Video of violent arrest has Edmontonians talking
WATCH ABOVE: Video of a violent arrest in Edmonton this week has a lot of people talking. As Kent Morrison reports, the video shows an officer fighting with a suspect and repeatedly threatening to shoot him – Mar 27, 2019

Concerns are being raised about the language and level of force used by a police officer while making an arrest in central Edmonton earlier this week.

A two-minute video that shows part of the violent exchange surfaced on social media. It shows a police officer struggling with a suspect who appears to be resisting arrest. At one point, the officer is seen punching the suspect, who punches the officer back. At another point, the officer appears to call for help on his police radio.

“I’m gonna shoot you!” the officer is heard screaming. “Stay down! Put your hands up now!”

The suspect appears to comply, but the officer is again heard yelling: “Stop moving or I’ll shoot you in the face.”

Brenda Primeau, who said she and her grandson saw the confrontation unfold from her third-floor balcony, spoke to Global News about what she saw.

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“It is traumatizing… seeing that, him yelling: ‘I’ll shoot you in the face,'” Primeau said on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Lethbridge police address video of officer takedown shared over social media

Police told Global News the officer was in the area at about 9:45 a.m. on Monday when a 911 call was made about an alleged domestic assault taking place in an apartment near 86 Street and 106 Avenue. They said the officer responded and spotted a man he identified as being a suspect in the assault and tried to arrest him.

According to police, “the man resisted and became belligerent.”

“The officer reported that the accused punched him in the face several times, and he then called for backup,” police said in an email. Police allege the suspect “continued to fight with the officer, which resulted in both of them struggling on the ground while the officer tried to effect the arrest.”

“The accused was handcuffed when another officer arrived at the scene to provide assistance,” they said.

Primeau’s account of what happened differs from the account provided by police.

“There was no punch until he got to the ground,” she said.

A criminal defence lawyer in Edmonton told Global News he saw the video and that while it does not show what led up to the confrontation, he still believes excessive force may have been used.

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“It’s remarkable to me that there was this threat to kill him, basically, by shooting him in the face,” Tom Engel said. “That’s a use of force: a threat to kill.”

Police said the suspect was handcuffed and arrested when another police officer arrived at the scene. The suspect was later charged with assaulting a peace officer to resist arrest. However, police said they would not be releasing the accused’s name because they believe it may identify “family members involved.”

Police said the officer who initially responded to the call was treated for injuries but said the accused did not report any injuries.

The officer’s handling of the incident is now being looked into, police said, adding that this is standard protocol whenever force is used.

Police told Global News that the officer seen in the video told them he believed the level of force he used was necessary to gain control of the accused.

Global News has learned the family of the accused has contacted a lawyer in the wake of the confrontation.

–With files from Global News’ Kent Morrison

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