The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) said it is investigating after an RCMP officer in Sherwood Park forcibly pushed an older man to the sidewalk, causing a head injury.
Video of the incident has gone viral online. It was uploaded to the website Streamable around 10 p.m. Tuesday, and has been viewed more than 45,000 times in 16 hours on that site alone. It has also been shared to Reddit, Facebook and Twitter.
In it, a woman appears to be speaking to someone on the phone, while a man in a mask walks toward an older man in a hat.
The older man’s speech sounds slurred, and he’s seen using his phone and appearing to take pictures of a unit in an apartment complex.
He is speaking about lawyers and a class-action lawsuit, when an RCMP cruiser pulls up and one officer gets out – immediately approaching the older man. The officer appears to call him by name.
The officer then takes hold of the man by the arm and the two stand that way for about 20 seconds. During that time, the older man uses his free arm to point at something, and appears to be trying to use his cellphone. Their conversation is inaudible.
Suddenly, the officer sticks his leg out and tackles the man to the ground, where the man’s head hits the ground and his hat comes off. A pool of blood starts to form.
The man is heard groaning as the officer pins him with his knee on top of the man’s neck and upper back area.
Witnesses express shock through profanities before the officer says: “What did I tell you?”
The older man’s cellphone is lying on the sidewalk beside his body as the officer handcuffs him.
A witness then shouts at the officer: “He’s bleeding! Hey, he’s bleeding!”
In response the officer says: “Really? Yeah, I’m aware.”
Sirens can then be heard and another officer approaches the scene.
Another witness says someone is going to find a first aid kit and the man, who appears unresponsive, is put into a recovery position by the initial officer before the video ends.
The incident took place at the The Emerald Hills Apartments in Sherwood Park. Staff at the rental office declined comment when contacted by Global News.
Mike, who did not share his last name, says he was the man the officer injured. Mike returned to the apartments Wednesday morning, wearing the same bloodied shirt depicted in the video. His head is clearly cut and his face is bruised in multiple places.
Mike says he does not remember what happened.
“I was obviously very drunk,” he said.
When asked about his head injury, he said he’s OK, adding, “I’ve got bleeding on the brain.”
With regards to the conduct of the RCMP officer involved, initially Mike said, “there’s not much I can say if I was uncooperative, right?”
He was unaware of the video taken by witnesses. When reporters showed Mike the video, he had to look away.
“Oh geez. That’s my head hitting the ground,” he said, looking distressed.
“You might consider that excessive. But I’ve got no comment,” Mike said as he walked away.
In a statement, the Alberta RCMP say they are reviewing the incident and the officer’s status.
They say officers first got involved around 7:25 p.m. Tuesday when a call came in from a nearby coffeehouse regarding an intoxicated man chasing a vehicle. RCMP say told the man to leave the area.
Half an hour later, the RCMP responded again, this time to the apartment complex, where they say a fire occurred earlier in the evening. The same intoxicated man allegedly got into a verbal confrontation with neighbours and is accused of assaulting a firefighter.
“The responding officer went to place the man under arrest, during which the male was taken to the ground and as a result suffered an injury. EMS was immediately dispatched and the male was taken to hospital and has subsequently been released,” the statement says.
The RCMP says it will not be releasing any additional information, pending the outcome of the ASIRT investigation.
Tyson Izzard lives in the apartment building. He didn’t witness the incident in person, but did watch the video.
“It just seemed a little excessive for the moment. The gentleman looked like he wasn’t really resisting, he just didn’t want to be bugged by the RCMP.”
Izzard says he knows the man injured by the RCMP and adds that officers regularly respond to calls involving the man being loud and disruptive to neighbours.
Criminal defence lawyer Tom Engel says the RCMP should act today regarding consequences for the officer involved.
“This is a serious criminal assault. It’s probably in the category of an aggravated assault,” Engel said.”He should be immediately suspended. He should be taken off the street. He is a danger to citizens.”
Engel watched the video repeatedly with colleagues.
“It was shocking. Shockingly unnecessary and excessive use of force. It was chilling, the thud the head made when it hit the concrete.”
He also questioned why the RCMP officer knelt on the man when he was unconscious.
Engel calls the maneuver a completely unnecessary martial arts takedown.
“The officer would have to know that this person’s head would be propelled with force into the concrete. It’s a wonder he wasn’t killed. I’m surprised to hear that he’s up and talking today.”