Police watchdog clears RCMP officer

A police watchdog group says there is no clear evidence an RCMP officer committed an offence.

An RCMP officer has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the 2014 arrest of a man who claimed he was kicked unconscious.

After a review of the evidence “there is no clear evidence that could provide reasonable grounds to believe the officer committed an offence,” says Susan Hughson, executive director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) in a Wednesday news release.

ASIRT’s mandate is to investigate independently incidents involving Alberta police that have resulted in serious injury or death, as well as allegations of police misconduct.

The organization was directed on Jan. 23, 2015 to investigate the circumstances surrounding the New Year’s Eve 2014 arrest near Blackfalds of a 47-year-old man, who was later treated for a broken rib and collapsed lung.

ASIRT’s report says police tried to stop a pickup near Blackfalds after receiving a complaint of a stolen licence plate. When an officer got out of his vehicle to conduct a traffic stop, the pickup kept going and hit the officer in the arm as it passed.

Two police vehicles tailed the pickup from which occupants were tossing beer cans as it drove through a rural area about 10 km west of Blackfalds. The driver, who was impaired, eventually lost control and hit the ditch.

The three passengers, the 47-year-old man and two women, got out of the pickup. Police soon arrived and ordered all three to get on the ground, which the women did.

It is alleged that the man refused and came towards the officer swearing. The officer hit him in the head with his gun and the suspect went down, but refused to stay down.

“The officer indicated he then kicked the man in the torso two to three times in an effort to gain control, at which point the man stayed on the ground and was handcuffed.”

The man was charged and then went to Lacombe’s hospital, where he was treated and released. Five days later, his condition worsening, the man went to Three Hills Health Centre and was diagnosed with broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

The suspect claimed he was kicked in the head twice and three times in the ribs and momentarily lost consciousness during his arrest.

“His version was inconsistent and irreconcilable with all other statements,” says Hughson. The women, officer and suspect were all interviewed and there was some video evidence.

Hughson said while the complainant’s injuries might have been sustained as he was taken into custody, he could have been injured when the pickup went through a sign and hit the ditch.

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