Youth who attacked Black teen outside Edmonton school will not face criminal charges

·2 min read
Edmonton Police Service has referred four boys directly involved in a racist assault on a Black teen in April to restorative justice.  (Codie McLachlan/CBC - image credit)
Edmonton Police Service has referred four boys directly involved in a racist assault on a Black teen in April to restorative justice. (Codie McLachlan/CBC - image credit)

Four boys involved in a video-taped racist after-school attack on a 14-year-old Black teen in April will not be charged in connection to the incident, Edmonton police said Monday.

Rather than face criminal charges however, all four will enter the police service's restorative justice program, police said, adding the decision came in consultation with the youth and their families.

On April 16, Pazo, who CBC is only identifying by his first name, was leaving Rosslyn School to catch the bus when he was chased and tackled by a group of up to seven people.

In a video of the attack which circulated online, someone could be heard calling the Grade 8 student the N-word.

He sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the assault, police said.

Police identified four boys who were directly involved in the assault between the ages of 12 and 15.

"What occurred in this incident is unacceptable and has no place in our communities; however, in some cases a criminal justice approach may not be the best course of action," EPS west division investigative response team Staff Sgt. Andre Francois said.

The program, DiversionFirst, was started in 2018 and is a multi-agency partnership aimed at connecting young, first-time offenders to "community organizations and family supports that are dedicated to mentoring and improving their lives, helping them to build a foundation for a positive future away from crime," police said.

Scott Neufeld/CBC
Scott Neufeld/CBC

"Beyond the details of the assault, our investigation revealed a group of youths, including the complainant, had no previous involvement with police.

"We recognized that criminalizing these youths would be inconsistent with a trauma-informed approach and would likely not result in the sense of healing and understanding that the community and all those involved deserve."

Over the next several months, the program will offer the youth a chance to make amends and correct their actions, police said.

In a May 24 letter, a group of eight community leaders called comments from Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee characterizing the April attack as "consensual" and not a hate crime, unacceptable and dismissive.

Police said the assault did not meet the Canadian Criminal Code threshold for a hate crime, and the use of "a highly inappropriate and hurtful racial slur" will be addressed during the program.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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