RCMP officer’s actions probed

The RCMP will look into the actions of a Bashaw RCMP officer deemed by a judge to have used “cruel” and excessive force when he punched and stomped on a one-footed man during a July 2009 arrest.

The RCMP will look into the actions of a Bashaw RCMP officer deemed by a judge to have used “cruel” and excessive force when he punched and stomped on a one-footed man during a July 2009 arrest.

Sgt. Patrick Webb, spokesman for Alberta RCMP, said it’s premature to know whether the actions of Bashaw RCMP Const. Jack Cunningham warrant an investigation.

“We will definitely want to know more about it,” said Webb, who added the court case only recently happened.

Alberta judge E.D. Reimer stayed criminal charges against Leslie James Lattery, who was arrested by Cunningham at a family gathering after getting into a dispute with a 12-year-old boy who was causing trouble.

Lattery had been charged with assault, uttering a death threat, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.

According to court transcripts, when Lattery refused to accompany the officer to his car, he was punched by Cunningham and quickly fell because he had only one foot, having lost the other to amputation.

The judge believed a witness who testified that Lattery was not resisting arrest, but could not get up when Cunningham was screaming at him.

“The officer used excessive force by striking the accused in the face without justification,” said Reimer, who also blamed the officer for breaking Lattery’s finger by stomping on his hand as he lay on the ground.

“I find that this treatment of the accused by the officer is cruel and unusual treatment.”

Reimer said in his ruling that the accused would not likely have been found guilty on any of the four counts against him.

Webb said the RCMP may wait 60 days to see if the ruling is appealed or could look into Webb’s actions sooner — especially if approached by the Crown prosecutor.

The RCMP generally has two avenues of investigation: looking internally into whether an officer breached a code of conduct or whether an officer broke the law.