As the family of Dalia Kafi prepares to bury her on Saturday following her death, her sister is speaking out about how her assault by a Calgary police officer changed the family forever.
Const. Alex Dunn was charged with assaulting Kafi in May of 2019.
The charges stem from Kari’s treatment during her arrest in December 2017.
Disturbing video of the assault shows a handcuffed Kafi thrown face-first onto the ground at the Calgary Police Service’s arrest processing unit.
Dunn was found guilty of assault in December 2020 and, at the end of June 2021, given a one-month sentence for what a judge called an “egregious mistake.”
Before Dunn was sentenced, Kafi died suddenly.
On Friday, as family prepared for private viewings ahead of a memorial service on Saturday, Kafi’s sister Bearina spoke to Global News about the turmoil they’ve experienced over the past several years.
Bearina said her sister, who was about five years younger than her, was adored by the family. She said her sister loved to cook, especially traditional Sudanese cuisine.
“She was a great person, a lovely sister to have in the family,” she said. “She was full of life.”
Bearina said Dalia didn’t speak about her assault too often because it was traumatic for her to relieve the incident.
“It was hard to talk about. But once in a while she would say something or bring it up and she started crying.”
Kafi testified in court that she still had physical issues from the incident, including headaches.
“She wasn’t a whole person after that; she was different,” Bearina said. “We just supported her, we tried to lift her spirits.”
Despite their best efforts, Bearina said the family felt Dalia wasn’t the person they used to know after her assault.
“She’d get upset so quickly, she’d get frustrated and I’d get frustrated too,” Bearina said.
She said finding out she died was horrible, and that her father was the last person to hear Dalia’s voice.
“We were all shocked…It was hard.”
Bearina said the family then experienced further heartbreak when Dunn received his short one-month sentence.
“We’re just in this period of grieving and we haven’t sat down, like as a family, to speak about that.”
Though she says she doesn’t have any ill will for Dunn, she now finds it hard to trust police and said she believes racial profiling and police brutality is still prevalent.
“I truly don’t have any hatred or anything for him,” she said of Dunn. “We, all as a community, we expect more from our police officers.”
“I know not all police officers are bad,” Bearina added. “But if I get stopped, like pulled over, by police… I don’t know… I should just run for my life.”
“How am I going to stop and be vulnerable? I don’t know what the police officer is going to do.”
In a statement to Global News, Calgary police said the service was deeply saddened to hear of Kafi’s death.
“Our thoughts continue to be with her son, family and friends,” police said. “We fully understand the anger and frustration from the community on this case and respect their rights to protest.”
“The assault on Dalia by Const. Alex Dunn has been, and continues to be, taken seriously by our service.”
“Const. Dunn’s conviction and sentencing is certainly not the end of this case. There is a potential for the sentence or conviction to be appealed, but once the criminal court process is complete, we will engage our internal disciplinary process.”
“The current Alberta Police Act requires that the Chief Constable send serious misconduct matters to a disciplinary hearing where a retired judge or retired senior police officer determines the officer’s culpability and imposes the discipline that is appropriate, up to and including dismissal.
“In a serious case like this, the chief does not have the lawful authority to impose discipline on his own initiative outside of this formal process.”
Dunn remains relieved from duty without pay and without his gun or badge.
“Given that the process for officer discipline is highly regulated and quasi-judicial in Alberta, it takes time to get through it,” police said.
“However, we are committed to seeing this case through and assure you that the length of the process is not an indication that the matter is not being taken seriously.”
– With files from Tracy Nagai