Edmonton mayor's office probes LRT arrest of teen smacked on video

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson's office is looking into an arrest by transit peace officers after a video posted to social media showed a teenager being struck in the face.

Edmonton police confirmed he is one of two men charged in Tuesday's stabbing near Coliseum LRT Station. One man was sent to hospital with life-threatening injuries. He is now in stable condition following surgery, said police.

In the video, posted on Twitter, two transit peace officers pin down a suspect near an escalator as a small crowd watches.

One officer says: "Put your hands behind your back, put your hand behind your back."

Then he smacks the suspect in the face, which can be heard in the video. "Stop fighting," he says.

A spokesperson for Edmonton Transit said the man had accosted two members of the public and ignored instructions from peace officers.

"Peace officers physically intervened to take control of the suspect," said Jennifer Laraway, adding that physical intervention was used in the interest of public safety. 

Bashir Mohamed, a member of the local advocacy group Black Lives Matter (BLM), informed Iveson about the incident in a tweet, asking whether the actions of the officers would be reviewed.

The mayor's office tweeted Wednesday morning that they were looking into the arrest.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Black Lives Matter wrote: "To be clear, the individual was subdued by two Peace Officers with his face down and hands clearly visible."

The statement said the part of the video showing the officer striking the individual "served no purpose in assisting the officers" in their arrest.

"We believe tactics used by Peace Officers should not resort to excessive force," the group said, noting it is unclear when transit officers report the use of force. 

BLM called for a review of peace officer training with transparency throughout. They also recommend training and accountability for police and peace officers be standardized throughout the city "to ensure that Edmontonians are treated to a similar standard regardless of which type of law enforcement they interact with."

​Police spokesperson Scott Pattison said investigators believe the two people involved in the incident, aged 19 and 18, were involved in a fight. 

Charges against the teens include aggravated assault and possession of a weapon. Pattison said a third person was located and arrested in connection to the incident.

@andreahuncar     andrea.huncar@cbc.ca