A four-year member of the Edmonton Police Service has been charged with assault after police said the level of force used in a 2019 arrest didn’t match what was documented in the police report at the time.
In a news release on Tuesday, the EPS said the charge stems from an arrest that took place in the area of 115 Avenue and 95 Street on Aug. 27, 2019.
An investigation was launched by the EPS Professional Standards Branch after police received a video of the arrest on Aug. 29, 2019.
“Upon completion of the investigation, PSB concluded that the level of force described in the police report was not consistent with the force observed in the video,” the news release read.
The case was forwarded to the Alberta Crown Prosecutors Services in Calgary to see if a criminal charge was warranted.
The charge was recommended on June 12.
In the video, a police officer can be seen holding someone to the ground when a second officer comes into view and appears to hit the man. The man screams in pain as the officers are then both kneeled down over him. It is not clear if they are kneeling on him.
“Please stop. Please step off me,” the man can be heard saying.
“Do not run from the police!” an officer is then heard yelling.
Tom Engel, the chair of the policing committee of the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association, said he was not surprised a police officer was charged in the incident.
“I thought it was obvious, the excessive force — unnecessary force… and therefore criminal force,” he said. “That was my impression.
“It just depicted to me an officer who was in some sort of a rage over having to give chase to somebody who didn’t obey his commands. An officer who shouldn’t be a police officer obviously.”
Const. Michael Partington has been charged under the Criminal Code with one count of assault.
Engel said “having video makes it far more likely there will be criminal prosecution” but added he doesn’t understand why the other officer in the video was not also charged.
“The partner didn’t do anything to stop him which is of great concern,” Engel said. “They have a duty to protect everybody from criminal actions… and it doesn’t matter if it’s another police officer.”
No further information will be released as the matter is before the courts, police said in a news release.
Partington has been removed from duty without pay. He has been released from custody via an appearance notice.
Engel said suspending the officer without pay is significant.
“That’s a big deal. That shows me there’s been a shift in the Edmonton Police Service about how to handle these incidents.”
Engel noted that suspending an officer without pay is rare and that the police commission can review the decision to do so.
“Chief (Dale) McFee probably recognizes the public outcry about this sort of thing and has responded to that.”