ASIRT takes over Edmonton police excessive-force investigation

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has taken over an excessive force investigation in which an alleged truck thief was kicked and slammed head first into a brick wall during an arrest by Edmonton police.

The Edmonton Police Service had been conducting the investigation but in a news release Wednesday, EPS said police Chief Dale McFee has asked the province's director of law enforcement to undertake a second review of the case involving the June 11 arrest of Kyle Parkhurst.

The release says the director of law enforcement "directed the matter to ASIRT, which has since taken over the investigation."

The arrest was captured on video by at least two onlookers. In one video, an EPS officer looks over both of his shoulders before repeatedly kicking a prone Parkhurst, who had been Tasered by that point. 

The officer then yanks Parkhurst to his feet and slams him head-first into a brick wall. The same officer later violently shoves the handcuffed Parkhurst into the side of a police cruiser. 

Edmonton police relinquished the investigation a day after CBC News published a story that revealed EPS was being allowed to conduct its own criminal investigation, a fact EPS had not disclosed in previous media communications.

CBC News also revealed that Bill Sweeney, the province's director of law enforcement and the RCMP's former senior deputy commissioner, had asked EPS to investigate whether the police service withheld medical treatment from the prisoner.

Medical treatment allegedly withheld

Sweeney made the request after learning from CBC News about the alleged lack of medical treatment provided to Parkhurst after his arrest.

Sweeney said police had told his department the "injury" sustained by Parkhurst was not serious. 

But Parkhurst's lawyer, Mark Jordan, said his client told him his request to see a doctor was denied, and his injuries were never photographed. 

Parkhurst allegedly was only assessed by a doctor after another lawyer acting for his grandmother filed a written complaint to the Edmonton Remand Centre and Alberta Health Services on June 25, two weeks after his arrest.

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In an emailed statement Tuesday, an EPS spokesperson said Parkhurst was assessed by a paramedic at the police station and his injuries were deemed to be minor.

Parkhurst told Jordan last week he has no memory of being thrown head first into a wall, although he was still having headaches and nightmares, and was combing scabs out of his scalp.

In its statement Wednesday, EPS said it only learned of the alleged excessive force on June 12, a day after the arrest. 

A CBC News reporter sought comment from police that same day after a video of the arrest was posted online. EPS told the reporter it couldn't comment unless a specific address of the arrest was provided.

"Sufficient information was not provided at the time, and the reporter was asked to come back with more information," EPS said in its release Wednesday, adding that it acknowledged to the media a few days later that it was reviewing the video.

"On June 18, a more detailed response was provided to media who inquired, outlining the incident, the accused's name and charges, and that [Professional Standards Branch] is investigating the incident as directed by the [director of law enforcement]."

McFee later told reporters that one officer had been suspended from active duty.

EPS and McFee, however, have declined to explain why the police service didn't disclose that a criminal investigation was underway.

Parkhurst, 26, faces nine charges, including possession of a stolen vehicle, failing to stop, dangerous driving, driving while prohibited and allegedly using a vehicle as a weapon to assault EPS Const. Jordan Steele. 

He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday for a bail hearing.