The sister of a man at the centre of a violent arrest caught on video is calling for disciplinary action against the Edmonton police officer.
Monica Biar and the family’s lawyer met with media Friday. They are calling for the officer to resign and for the charge against Biar’s brother to be dropped.
The lawyer said she is reviewing videos of the incident and plans to file an official complaint with the chief of police against the officer.
“My brother is in pain and my family is in shock,” Biar said. “I called the police for my brother to get help. Not for him to be a punching bag.
“I have retained a lawyer, Amanda, to help my brother clear his name. The past few days have been difficult for my family — emotionally and financially… My family is working on getting my brother the help he needs.
“From now on, I will not be calling 911. Instead, I’ll be calling 211 to get him the help he needs.”
211 is a 24-hour information and referral line that helps people connect to social and health services.
Concerns were raised earlier this week about the language and level of force used by the officer while making an arrest in central Edmonton on Monday morning.
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.”
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 family dispute taking place in an apartment near 86 Street and 106 Avenue. EPS added Friday “the call indicated the subject was being violent and assaultive.” EPS said the officer arrived on scene and began speaking with a man outside the building and determined that this was the subject of the 911 call. At that point, the officer 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.
At this point, there is no video of what led up to the two being on the ground.
WATCH BELOW (March 27): 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.
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.”
Biar says she called police that morning. She says her brother was having a mental health problem, which is why she called police.
“It wasn’t a domestic violence call; it was he needed help. He was having a mental health problem… he was hallucinating.”
Biar says her brother had a previous incident with police a few weeks ago for a similar issue. She says that time, police handled it calmly and she was encouraged to call them again if something happened.
When she saw the officer and her brother on the ground, Biar says she ran down to the street from the third floor of their building.
“I was trying to tell the officer that he needs help, he’s not normal and he wouldn’t acknowledge me.”
Police said the officer who initially responded to the call on Monday was treated for injuries but said the accused did not report any injuries. His family says he is now in hospital and did suffer cuts and bruises.
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.
“Obviously, it’s only part of the incident,” lawyer Amanda Hart-Dowhun said Friday of the video. “It’s not the entirety. So there’s still gaps to be filled in.
“But one of the troubling aspects of this video is that, for a large portion of the video, you can see that the gentleman has his hands up in the air and you can hear him saying: ‘See?’ you know, like like: ‘See, my hands are up,’ and the officer is still screaming at him and is threatening to shoot him in the face.”
— With files from Kent Morrison, Phil Heidenreich and Emily Mertz Global News