Mountie who slapped handcuffed man will not face charges, police watchdog says

·3 min read
The officer won't be charged, but could still face other consequences. (CBC - image credit)
The officer won't be charged, but could still face other consequences. (CBC - image credit)

Alberta's policing watchdog says a Mountie who used excessive force in June of 2018 when he slapped a handcuffed man in the face will not face criminal prosecution.

In a news release Friday, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) says the officer delivered an "open-handed slap to the face" to a 30-year-old man who was being detained at the Strathcona County RCMP Detachment following an arrest in Sherwood Park.

ASIRT says the evidence "clearly provided reasonable grounds to believe that the offence of assault had been committed," but the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service (ACPS) found the evidence did not meet their standard for prosecution.

"ASIRT was advised that the 'test for proceeding with a prosecution is not met' and that 'a reasonable likelihood of conviction does not exist,'" ASIRT said in a news release Friday.

"This report and ASIRT's concerns will be remitted back to the RCMP for their attention and appropriate consideration of alternate methods of accountability for the conduct in question."

ASIRT investigates events where serious injury or death may have been caused by police, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct. The agency was directed to investigate the arrest in July 2018, one month after the man was detained.

The officer — who told investigators that the suspect had spit on him — acted unprofessionally and hit the man in an attempt to "demean and humiliate him," ASIRT said.

The suspect had been arrested in Sherwood Park on June 9 and brought into the station in handcuffs around 2:15 a.m. Before he was placed in a cell, three officers brought him to the guard desk to be processed.

The man, whose hands were cuffed behind his back, was "intoxicated, off balance, and belligerent," ASIRT said.

"From their arrival, the affected person and the subject officer were verbally confrontational with each other. This included insults and yelling from both," the news release reads, in part.

With no proper purpose and therefore no necessity, the force used can only be excessive. - ASIRT news release

The officer then struck the man once, with the front of his open right hand, ASIRT said.

The slap was "not overly hard" and caused no injuries, ASIRT said.

The witness officers "interceded in some manner," and the officer in question left the area.

The officer told investigators that the man had quickly stepped towards him, was "spitting because of the yelling," and that he hit the man in order "to move his head away."

"This use of force was not a control tactic," reads the statement from ASIRT.

"There was no rational connection between this slap and any spitting since the slap would not have stopped it.

"With no proper purpose and therefore no necessity, the force used can only be excessive."

The agency said the officer should have used more restraint but instead engaged in an argument that made the "situation worse."

"The affected person and the subject officer both laid the groundwork for a yelling match of such intensity that spit was flying around, but only one of the participants was a sober, on duty, police officer expected to carry out his responsibilities with professionalism and restraint," ASIRT said.

"Based on the evidence as a whole, the reasonable inference is that the subject officer lost his control and responded with anger."

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