Nearly eight years after Godfred Addai-Nyamekye was attacked by a Calgary police officer, a judge has ruled he was assaulted. And while the finding won't result in a criminal conviction, it could affect former constable Trevor Lindsay's sentence for his assault on another handcuffed man.
"The fact that the judge thought it was an assault, that's awesome," said Addai-Nyamekye in a phone interview with CBC News.
"I feel great about it."
Lindsay caused fractured skull
The finding comes midway through the sentencing hearing for Lindsay, who was convicted more than two years ago by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Michael Lema of aggravated assault on Daniel Haworth.
Video evidence showed Haworth in handcuffs, pressed up against a police cruiser by Lindsay, who punched the victim in the head four times before throwing him on the ground head-first.
Haworth suffered a brain injury and fractured skull in the May 2015 incident.
He died of a drug overdose months after the injury in the parking lot of the arrest processing unit. His brother said he was never the same after the assault.
'Exceptionally long sentencing detour'
Following the conviction, prosecutor John Baharustani wanted to argue the violence Lindsay used against Addai-Nyamekye in 2013 was an unlawful assault that could then be used as an aggravating factor in sentencing the former officer for the Haworth attack.
Criminal charges were never laid against Lindsay for his use of force against Addai-Nyamekye, but he did face charges under the Alberta Police Act until he quit the service last year ahead of a disciplinary hearing.
The "exceptionally long sentencing detour" was repeatedly cited in Lema's 50-page decision.
The clearly frustrated judge noted that while the trial took five days, the sentencing hearing is headed into its fourth week.
Lindsay 'left the zone of reasonable use of force'
Lema said lawyers should have gone through the proper steps to seek a ruling that would have determined whether the evidence from 2013 could even be presented. Had they done that, the request would have been denied, wrote the judge.
Still, he moved ahead with the finding that Lindsay's "indefensible beating" was, in fact, an assault on Addai-Nyamekye.
"Lindsay was so bent, and for no good reason, on getting Mr. Addai-Nyamekye lying facedown on the road, that he left the zone of reasonable use of force and reasonable self-defence far behind," wrote Lema.
Addai-Nyamekye has spent years trying to get people in positions of authority to see the beating as excessive use of force and says he's happy people will see Lindsay had a history of violence while wearing a badge.
"It's a pattern, it's not just a one time thing," said Addai-Nyamekye.
On a frigid December night in 2013 with temperatures nearing –30 C, Addai-Nyamekye was dumped by other officers in the East Village at a time when the neighbourhood was sparsely populated and largely under construction.
Addai-Nyamekye had a locked cellphone that would only allow him to dial 911. He called several times, asking for help.
Ultimately, Lindsay arrived on scene.
As part of the sentencing hearing, the prosecution called Addai-Nyamekye as a witness. But when it was time for him to be cross-examined by the defence, he refused to answer questions after about an hour, telling the judge his PSTD had been triggered.
A forensic psychologist report found Addai-Nyamekye was capable but unwilling to continue.
Lema ultimately ruled he would disregard all of Addai-Nyamekye's testimony and rely instead on Lindsay's evidence and the video.
Lindsay had 'phantom reasons' for beating, judge says
Video taken from a CPS helicopter shows some of the violence.
With Addai-Nyamekye in handcuffs, lying on the ground, Lindsay can be seen dragging his arrestee.
The officer tripped and then began punching and kneeing the victim.
Lindsay testified that he believed Addai-Nyamekye was going to spit on or bite him.
"What the video reveals, fundamentally, is an effectively defenceless man … who is already under the dominion of a fully-equipped police officer (with reinforcements obviously close to arriving) being punched and kneed for phantom reasons," wrote Lema.
Addai-Nyamekye says that aside from the PTSD, he still suffers from chronic pain related to the beating.
A date for Lindsay's sentencing hearing to resume has not yet been set.