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ASIRT investigating CPS use of force following Nov. 19 arrests that left teen injured

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Alberta's police watchdog has taken over a review of CPS use of force during arrests at a demonstration in support of the people of Gaza on November 19.

Four adults were charged in the incident, but a 13-year-old was also arrested and released without charge.

The teen and his family cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, but they spoke with CTV News this week, sharing both the extent of the boy's injuries as well as the family's wrenching backstory.

Although he left the scene with his family that day, he was later admitted to Alberta Children's Hospital where he was treated for a concussion and checked for internal bleeding. He was vomiting, shaking uncontrollably and temporarily incontinent, said his parents.

CTV was able to view a total of six medications all prescribed in the past week.

SITTING ON THE GROUND

The boy said he was sitting on the ground in the intersection of MacLeod Trail and 4 Street SE, part of a crowd of between 100 and 200 people.

"I only saw the police come and they didn't warn us and they came and they hit us and we were on the ground so I couldn't get up," the boy said.

"It was my first time being very, very scared."

In witness video, an officer can be seen reaching into the crowd, grabbing the boy and handing back to other officers. One of their batons appears to contact his head.

"They put their knee on my kidneys and my kidneys hurts. I have problems now in my kidneys," the boy said, speaking in a dimly-lit room. He was diagnosed with a concussion and says he's struggled with nausea and sleep since the incident.  "When they hit me, they hit me with a baton on my head."

A Calgary teenager's family is calling for police officers to be charged after they say their son was injured by police during a Nov. 19 demonstration is support of the people of Gaza

"And then a guy came and slapped me around my head."

In witness video, the boy can be seen sitting on the ground, hands cuffed behind his back crying out with tears running down his face. He's later seen standing, much calmer but still visibly upset.

Police said at the time they attempted to negotiate with the group that had split off from the main demonstration to vacate the busy intersection, but were not successful.

When some demonstrators attempted to break the police line, officers took action.

FAMILY FLED LOOKING FOR SAFETY AND PEACE

The family say they came to Canada from Gaza in 2020 but their journey started in 2014 when a bomb struck a neighbouring building.

"I lost my kid, he was like a child -- like a new baby -- around four months (old)," the father said, his eyes cast downwards.

That was when the senior police captain decided he had to get his family out. He sold his wife's jewelry to get across the border where he could begin to look for a new home, a place to bring the family.

He made his way to Canada. While he was gone, his seven-year-old son - the one injured by police last week - was shot through the calf by a soldier.

Six years later he's been injured again, and says he physically struggled to comply with some of the officer's commands because of lingering nerve damage from the gunshot wound.

Their mother says she has lost 35 family members in the current conflict. They say they are appreciative of their new country, their overall English is fluent and their home tidy and carefully arranged.

But their story of loss is also a reminder of the reasons behind people's public displays, the passionate chants for a ceasefire and security in a part of the world where no one feels safe.

FATHER CALLS FOR OFFICER TO BE CHARGED

Asked what could be done to make the family feel better, the boy's father was clear.

"I need the police officer who grab him, who hit him, who put him on the ground - the three (officers). Not one. Three. Charge them. All of the three."

ASIRT has now taken over the file. Calgary Police Service initially said they stood behind their officers' decisions.

Asked about the investigation this week, CPS said they are prevented from commenting further while ASIRT looks into officer's actions that day.

CPS did say anyone who feels they have been wronged by a police officer should file a complaint with the CPS Professional Standards Section. An investigator will respond with in a few days.

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