'Loss of judgment:' Sentence reserved for police officer who assaulted suspect

·3 min read

CALGARY — A police officer recorded on video when he threw a handcuffed woman to the ground face-first said through his lawyer Thursday that he didn't intend to cause her "physical and psychological pain."

Const. Alex Dunn, who was in court but chose not to speak, expressed his remorse through defence lawyer Cory Wilson.

"He is hopeful this sentencing will give you some sense of closure," Wilson told Dalia Kafi, who attended Dunn's sentencing hearing in a Calgary courtroom.

Dunn, 34, was found guilty in December of assault causing bodily harm. He had brought in Kafi for breaking a curfew when a security camera in the arrest area captured what happened. The video played during his trial showed him throwing her down and blood pooling on the ground where her face hit the floor.

Kafi is Black, but Crown prosecutor Ryan Pollard said there was no suggestion the assault in December 2017 was racially motivated.

Pollard, however, urged the judge not to ignore race.

"I submit it would be an error for the court to not consider the fact the victim here is Black and the perpetrator is white," Pollard said.

"It is appropriate for this court to consider the need to more strongly denounce and try to specifically and generally deter this kind of conduct, which is becoming more and more prevalent, and more and more looked down upon by society," said Pollard.

He called for a nine-month jail term.

Wilson asked for a conditional sentence of 30 to 45 days to be served intermittently.

"The excessive force in this case was spontaneous and, but for an incredibly brief period of time — approximately two to three seconds — this violence can best be described as a momentary loss of judgment," Wilson argued.

Dunn is likely to lose his job as a police officer and the video has exposed him to widespread condemnation, the defence lawyer added.

"This is something that's been following him, that's been tweeted out by celebrities ... (actor) Morgan Freeman and (NBA basketball player) LeBron James. It's been on TMZ. This has far- reaching implications for him on his reputation."

The judge reserved her decision.

In her victim impact statement, Kafi said she is still suffering effects from the attack.

"I find it hard to trust people after the assault, especially the police. I still can't understand how this could possibly happen at a police station from someone I thought was there to protect me," she wrote.

Kafi said outside court she would have preferred to have received an apology from Dunn himself. She said she is still haunted.

"I felt like I was useless, that I was nothing. I didn't feel like a human being. You would never do that to a dog or a cat, so why would you do that to a human being?"

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2021.

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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press