A Saskatoon police officer used excessive force during the arrest of Jordan Lafond in October 2016, Saskatchewan’s police oversight body has determined.
Lafond, 21, was a passenger in a stolen F-150 truck on Oct. 23, 2016. Police pursued the vehicle until it crashed near Bethlehem Catholic High School. There were three guns in the truck.
As Lafond was arrested, “there was an excessive use of force by one of the officers in this matter,” said Brent Cotter, chair of the Saskatchewan Public Complaints Commission (PCC).
An autopsy revealed Lafond died of a traumatic head injury, though a pathologist couldn’t determine whether the death was caused by police use of force or the truck crash.
Saskatoon police investigated the case with a provincially-appointed observer. Public prosecutions reviewed the findings, but did not lay any criminal charges.
Details of the arrest were laid out during a coroner’s inquest in June 2018.
Three officers were involved in the arrest, including Sgt. Thomas Gresty who told the inquest he delivered “three or four” knee strikes to Lafond’s head following the pursuit.
With each blow, Gresty said he told Lafond to stop resisting.
Gresty said Lafond was on his stomach, while officer Kelly Olafson attempted to handcuff the 21-year-old.
The inquest ended with two recommendations and a finding that Lafond’s cause of death was an accident.
Charmaine Dreaver, Lafond’s mother, filed a complaint with the PCC regarding excessive use of force, Cotter said.
After interviewing officers, viewing in-car video and reviewing all relevant material, Cotter said the complaint was substantiated.
The findings were delivered to the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) in the fall, Cotter said. He added police chiefs have the option to reject the findings, but Chief Troy Cooper accepted the report.
Cotter stated Cooper “imposed a series of sanctions and training requirements and reassignments with respect to the officer involved.”
In an email, SPS spokesperson Alyson Edwards said “the PCC found that the force used was not required to take Lafond into custody.”
“The SPS has taken steps internally to reduce the likelihood of this occurring again in the future,” she said.
Edwards stated she could not provide further details, citing an ongoing civil suit.