CPS member convicted, fellow officers acquitted, after suspect injured during 2016 traffic stop
Constable James Othen of the Calgary Police Service has been convicted of assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon for his role in a 2016 traffic stop where a suspect suffered significant injuries.
In the evening hours of July 30, 2016, officers attempted to stop a vehicle in the 6700 block of Macleod Trail S.W.. The driver, 34-year-old Clayton Prince, exited the vehicle and tried to escape from police by running through a nearby restaurant. Prince had told court that he had been at a music festival and had been smoking marijuana prior to the traffic stop.
Prince said three officers caught him, placed him in handcuffs and proceeded to punch and kick him. The 34-year-old suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a facial laceration and significant bruising.
Dashcam video presented in court showed officers chasing Prince out of frame. Several minutes later, the recording showed a bloodied Prince being escorted back to the CPS cruiser. While Prince was in the CPS vehicle, Constable Othen dug the point of a key into the suspect's neck behind the ear, a spot vulnerable to pain compliance techniques.
The injury behind Prince's ear became infected and required medical attention.
Four officers had responded to the scene but only three faced charges following an investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT).
On Friday, Constable James Othen was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon. Othen was acquitted of public mischief.
Constable Kevin Humfrey was found not guilty of assault causing bodily harm and Constable Michael Sandalak was found not guilty of assault.
Following Friday's verdicts, Chief Constable Roger Chaffin of the Calgary Police Service released the following statement.
“As with a member of public, when an officer is charged with an offence they have the right to a fair trial. I fully respect the judicial process and will take time to review the verdict," said Chaffin in the statement. “Constable Othen will continue to be relieved from duty without pay. The statuses of the officers found not guilty are now under review."
“Moving forward, under the Police Act this incident is required by law to be reviewed and an internal investigation will be conducted by the CPS Professional Standards Section. We will be unable to provide additional comment until the internal investigation is complete.”
Clayton Prince was originally charged with resisting arrest and possession of a small amount of marijuana but his charges were stayed in August 2016.