‘He was punched in the neck’: Alberta farm family recalls run-in with sheriffs at checkstop
CALGARY -- Family of an 18-year-old farmer who they say was left bloodied after being dragged out of his tractor by Alberta Sheriffs performing a checkstop are raising money in an effort to have charges dropped.
Jeremia Leussink, 18, was travelling from one field to another on July 31 when he was stopped by Alberta Sheriffs performing a checkstop on Highway 2A near Didsbury.
Video footage shows five sheriffs surrounding Leussink's tractor and he is pulled out of the vehicle, which family says left him bloodied.
“He’s so down and roughed up and in a lot of shock about what happened,” said brother, Clinton Leussink.
“He was punched in the neck and the back and the head several times. We have footage of blood all over the tractor on the pavement.”
Clinton says his brother was getting impatient with a line of vehicles and drove into the ditch to enter his next field of work when sheriffs surrounded him, demanding he take a breathalyzer.
“He doesn’t drink, he’s never been involved in anything, he didn’t exactly know what a breathalyzer is,” he said.
Clinton say Leussink now faces several charges including resisting arrest and failing to take a breathalyzer.
The family's farm is near Sundre, covering 800 acres of their own land and thousands more through central Alberta through the brothers' business, Custom Farming Bro’s.
The family says they are wondering why such action was taken by the sheriffs who were conducting the checkstop.
Jeremia’s other brother Dominic, 20, was working with him that day and was first to arrive after, saying he was told he could pick up the tractor Jeremia was in.
But when he arrived, Dominic said it had been towed, something the family says they told officers not to do.
“I wasn’t very happy about that, when I got there, the tractor was already on the truck,” said Dominic, adding he was arrested is also now facing charges including obstruction, mischief and resisting arrest.
“I did resist a little bit at first, so I got out of the tractor, they arrest(ed) me, handcuffed me, and put me in a car,” said Dominic.
“It's a $300,000 dollar tractor, so a loss of income over $100,000 in lost work,” said Clinton.
A spokesperson for the Solicitor General’s office says sheriffs were conducting a checkstop in the area and all traffic was subject to stop.
“Sometime after 9 p.m. sheriffs noticed a tractor enter the highway and drive past the checkstop without stopping,” said Alberta Justice and Solicitor General spokesperson Jason van Rassel.
“Drivers operating any kind of vehicle on a public highway are subject to rules of the road set out in the Traffic Safety Act, the Criminal Code and associated regulations, and this includes stopping for peace officers when directed.”
Van Rassel says the operator failed to stop.
“Sheriffs stopped the tractor and laid charges against the operator for refusal to provide a breath sample and resisting arrest,” he said.
“With this case now before the courts, we have no further comment on the allegations.”
CTV News has reached out to the RCMP but have not yet heard back.
The family is now raising money to hire a lawyer and have the charges dropped.