Edmonton police officer will have criminal record but no jail time for assaulting Indigenous man

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WATCH: An Edmonton police officer whose assault of an Indigenous man was caught on video will not serve jail time. Morgan Black was at court Thursday for sentencing and has the details – Dec 2, 2021

Edmonton Police Service Const. Michael Partington, who was found guilty of a 2019 assault, was sentenced Thursday. He was fined $2,000 and will have a criminal record but serve no jail time.

Read more: Crown seeks jail time for Edmonton police officer convicted of assaulting Indigenous man

Partington was found guilty of assault in August. The charge stemmed from an arrest that took place in the area of 115 Avenue and 95 Street on Aug. 27, 2019.

Another officer had stopped an Indigenous man for riding a bike on a sidewalk without a bell.

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Video of the confrontation shows the victim on the ground in a prone position. He screams in pain as the officers both kneel down over him. The footage shows Partington drive his knee into the man’s back.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton police officer charged with assault' Edmonton police officer charged with assault
Edmonton police officer charged with assault – Jun 17, 2020

Partington was joined in court for the sentencing Thursday by his wife, who is pregnant and due this month.

The judge acknowledged the positions of the Crown and defence “could not be further apart.”

The judge, Hon. Peter Ayotte, said the prominent aggravating factor was breach of trust. Ayotte said altercation involves violence, the video shows it resulted in “immediate significant pain.”

“The offender, in committing offence, abused a position of trust and authority,” Ayotte said.

The judge said the fact that the victim is a racialized minority makes it an increasingly relevant matter.

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The defence argued Partington did not know the man was Indigenous at the time.

The judge also said there is a strong argument for making this a matter of public record.

The judge said granting the discharge would be contrary to the public interest.

Judge Ayotte said the victim’s impact statement talked more about the attack of the first officer, Const. McCargar. The judge said Partington played a “secondary role” in the attack.

READ MORE: Video from 2018 shows Edmonton police officer using his knee on man’s neck during arrest

The incident was caught on camera and widely circulated, sparking a debate over the officer’s actions and potential consequences.

Crown prosecutor Carla MacPhail argued on Oct. 27 that Partington should serve jail time — 60-90 days — followed by 12-18 months probation.

MacPhail said the context of the assault was a man riding a bike with no bell — a “very non-urgent situation” that led to a “violent confrontation” with “extreme consequences for all involved.”

MacPhail pointed out that the victim is a member of a racialized minority, and while she was not alleging the assault was racially motivated, that fact “can’t be ignored.”

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She argued the victim was in a position of vulnerability and said Partington’s knee could have resulted in worse injuries. She said jail time would serve as a wider deterrent for other law enforcement officials and would denounce Partington’s actions.

READ MORE: Edmonton Police Service constable charged with assault in relation to 2019 arrest

The defence argued that message is already being sent loud and clear and jail time isn’t required.

Partington’s lawyer Mike Danyluik argued that news coverage of the incident serves as a big deterrent and pointed out the video will be online forever and the fear of job loss or the financial impact is a stronger deterrent than jail time would be.

The defence argued that it’s dangerous to bring race into the case since Partington saw the suspect for only for a few moments and his face was turned away.

The defence had sought a suspended sentence — 12 to 18 months probation, 120 to 180 hours of community service and instructional programming on police use of force.

Danyluik argued Partington has led an otherwise exemplary personal and professional life apart from this one moment.

An Edmonton Police Service spokesperson told Global News on Thursday: “A full Professional Standards Branch investigation will be conducted now that Partington’s criminal matter and the Statutory Complaint Investigation has been concluded.

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“This investigation will include interviewing and investigating all use of force allegations and testimony involving both Const. Partington and Const. McCargar.”

— With files from Morgan Black, Global News

Click to play video: 'Edmonton police constable sentenced for 2019 assault of Indigenous man' Edmonton police constable sentenced for 2019 assault of Indigenous man
Edmonton police constable sentenced for 2019 assault of Indigenous man – Dec 2, 2021

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