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Three Calgary police officers charged following ASIRT investigation
Published Wednesday, October 5, 2016 12:36PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 5, 2016 6:38PM MDT
Three Calgary police officers are facing criminal charges in connection to an incident at the end of July that left a man with serious injuries.
Four officers were involved in the original investigation but only three will face charges:
- Const. James Othen, a nine-year member, is charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm, one count of assault with a weapon and two counts of public mischief.
- Const. Kevin Humfrey, a two-year member, is charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm and two counts of public mischief.
- Const. Michael Sandalack, a nine-year member, is charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm.
The charges stem from a traffic stop on Macleod Trail on July 30, 2016.
Police stopped a vehicle at about 8:50 p.m. and the driver, 34-year-old Clayton Prince, then fled the scene on foot. He was located a short distance away and surrendered to officers.
Prince was lying prone with his hands behind his head and it is alleged he was assaulted by the officers before and after he was handcuffed.
He sustained broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a facial laceration and significant bruising in the incident.
He was placed in the back of a cruiser and Const. Othen allegedly reached into the vehicle and dug the point of a key into Prince’s neck behind his ear, which is an area known to be vulnerable to pain compliance techniques. The injury became infected and required additional treatment.
Prince was originally charged with one count of resisting arrest and one count of possession of a small amount of marijuana. The charges were stayed by the Crown at the end of August.
The incident was captured on dashboard cameras and Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin says ASIRT was notified as soon as the video was reviewed.
“I watched the video just a few weeks ago and as soon as I saw it, it went to ASIRT so it’s not representative of policing, it’s not representative of the kind of policing that we’d expect in the city so it raised an enormous amount of questions about what happened there and it went away for investigations,” said Chief Chaffin.
Both Othen and Humfrey are also charged with public mischief after they allegedly made false statements and reported that Prince resisted an officer, when the offence had not been committed.
“It’s a most disappointing time to see one of your members or any of your members having to go through this or have done something that put them exposed to the criminal courts but as I said before, accountability is incredibly important,” said Chaffin.
The incident was reviewed by CPS members and ASIRT was brought in to conduct an investigation.
ASIRT Executive Director Susan Hughson received the completed investigation and after review, determined there were reasonable grounds to believe that the offences were committed by police officers.
“The fact that they lied. The public mischief counts, by far, are the most serious. To suggest that a person committed an offence that they did not commit, and potentially subject that person to the criminal justice process and potentially imprisonment is extremely serious,” said Hughson. “It’s really important in these types of cases to make sure that we do the investigation to the highest possible standard because the public needs to have confidence that when ASIRT comes in and determines that charges are appropriate and the Crown determines that there’s a reasonable likelihood of conviction, that we have the evidence to back that up.”
ASIRT says Prince did not report the incident but he did take photos of his injuries and cooperated with the investigation when he was contacted.
“The video is what started the inquiry into this further so the video very clearly raises concerns,” said Hughson. “There’s video, there’s audio from another police car, there’s video from another police car and there’s a significant amount of eye-witness evidence from witness officers, so all those pieces are fundamentally important.”
“It certainly shows the critical importance of absolute transparency and accountability so these dashcam videos, had it been the video camera of even a passerby, are very, very important for the ability to be, to ensure ourselves and the public that we are being held to account when things go on so it is an opportunity to use this era of digital media to get more accurate with it going on and so we can learn things,” said Chaffin.
The three officers have been relieved of their duties and were released on their own recognizance.
The fourth officer has been designated as a witness and Hughson says there was insufficient evidence to charge him.