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Saskatoon police officer placed on leave after video of violent arrest shared

Click to play video 'Video prompts review of Saskatoon police officers’ use of force' Video prompts review of Saskatoon police officers’ use of force
WATCH: A video appears to show six police officers subduing and striking a suspect. A police spokesperson told Global News the incident is being investigated – Jul 6, 2020

A review is underway into the conduct and use of force employed by several officers during an arrest this weekend in Saskatoon.

video posted online appears to show a Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) officer pinning a suspect to the ground and repeatedly striking him.

Read more: Saskatoon man pepper sprayed, Tasered, charged with assaulting officer: police

At one point, the man shouts “you’re hurting me,” to which the police officer yells “just comply.”

Shortly after, another officer arrives and appears to immediately strike the suspect. After several minutes of struggling, one officer appears to use a Taser on the suspect.

By the end of the six and a half minutes in the video, six officers are shown subduing the man and two are standing nearby. Not all of the interaction is recorded on the posted video, but use of force is captured, read a statement from SPS on Monday.

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The video was posted by the Indigenous Joint Action Coalition, which, in an accompanying statement, said the man is Evan Penner.

The statement said Penner is Indigenous and the police were initially called to complete a mental wellness check.

“The reality is that Indigenous and Black people are still routinely brutalized by the police in this city with no accountability at all,” said Erica Violet Lee, a group co-founder.

“It’s clear from the video… the officers have no regard for this person’s life and they have no regard for his pain that he’s clearly in.”

Read more: Saskatoon police officer used excessive force in Jordan Lafond arrest: PCC

The group is calling for, among other things, the officers in the video to be fired, an end to violent responses directed towards substance users and those with mental health and wellness concerns, and for the abolition of police and prisons.

“Police violence traumatizes our community and causes lifelong physical and psychological injuries … We refuse platitudes of “reform” or “reconciliation,” and demand the abolition of systems built to control Black and Indigenous people,” the group said.

The statement said the incident happened at 2 p.m. on July 4, which corresponds with a SPS statement about an arrest at that time.

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The police said a 27-year-old man was arrested for assaulting a police officer, disarming a police officer, mischief and possession of a controlled substance.

According to police, officers responded to a suspicious person in the 500 block of 11th Street East and discovered a man who had damaged property.

The suspect resisted when officers tried to arrest him and attempted to disarm the officer, police said.

Both accounts say pepper spray was used and the first officer in the video can be heard telling the suspect to stop trying to grab his radio.

Read more: Hundreds attend Saskatoon Cancel Canada Day demonstration

SPS said during the arrest and following a several-minute struggle with the first responding officer, the arrested subject sustained non-life threatening injury to his face.

He was assessed by paramedics at the scene of his arrest, and was observed while in custody by the on-duty paramedic in detention, but has since been released on bail, according to police.

A police spokesperson told Global News they are reviewing the incident and that SPS Chief Troy Cooper has requested the Saskatchewan Public Complaints Commission will be responsible for an independent investigation and has spoken to the Ministry of Justice as well as the Ministry of Corrections and Policing about ensuring there is appropriate oversight.

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“I recognize this incident was a traumatic event for our community, for those involved and for those who witnessed it,” Cooper said in a press release on Monday.

“Whenever force is used we are accountable and I want to assure the public that this is being taken seriously and we will do our utmost to be open and transparent as the investigation unfolds.”

The officer involved has been placed on leave until an initial review of his response and use of force can be completed, according to a SPS statement.

SPS said the effects of addictions and related mental health issues were present during the arrest and this will form part of the investigation as well.

With files from Thomas Piller