Alberta briefs – June 24

Edmonton police say there will probably be a criminal investigation of two officers after a judge found they resorted to “significant violence” by smashing a man face-first into his car during an arrest.

Police likely to investigate rough arrest

EDMONTON — Edmonton police say there will probably be a criminal investigation of two officers after a judge found they resorted to “significant violence” by smashing a man face-first into his car during an arrest.

Provincial court Judge Donna Groves said the beating last year left Anthony Maskell with severe and permanent injuries. His nose and several bones on the right side of his face were broken and he underwent surgery to insert titanium plates in his cheek.

“This is a case of egregious police conduct — an unwarranted, grave assault causing serious permanent injuries,” Groves said in a written ruling released last week.

“This is one of those ‘clearest of cases’ that requires the court to communicate unequivocally that such conduct will not be tolerated.”

Constables Nadine Comeau and Darin Goldenberg were on downtown patrol March 11, 2010, when they pulled over Maskell because a check on his licence plate revealed he was suspended from driving. They charged him with driving while disqualified, refusing a breathalyzer test and impaired driving.

Groves said that while Maskell uttered profanities at the officers, he did not try to flee and posed no physical threat. She noted he was handcuffed before he received the facial injuries.


Harvey joins race for Alberta Liberals leadership

EDMONTON — A financial services manager named Bill Harvey is the fifth person to enter the race to become the leader of the Alberta Liberals.

Harvey supports a provincial police force and wants to create more charter schools. He also lists lower taxes and smaller government as his priorities.

The others running for the position are former Conservative member of the legislature Raj Sherman, Edmonton MLAs Laurie Blakeman and Hugh MacDonald, and Bruce Payne of Calgary.


Flap erupts over birdhouse donation for cancer centre

EDMONTON — The debate over a birdhouse is ruffling some feathers in Edmonton.

Paul Chaisson’s mother gave him a birdhouse as a gift in 2008 before she passed away from lung cancer, and he has been building them ever since.

Chaisson wants to put one outside Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute for other patients and family members to enjoy.

But Chaisson’s request was turned down after management cited maintenance concerns.

Management also say they receive so many memorial requests that they just can’t honour them all. Staff have agreed to work with Chaisson to find a way he can honour his mother and other cancer patients, but maintain the birdhouse is out.

“The biggest thing for us was the maintenance of the object, the birdhouse, and who would be responsible for that,” said Scott Fielding, executive director of the Cross Cancer Institute.

Chaisson offered to maintain it himself, but staff say that presents a liability concern.

Chaisson says that’s baffling.

“You wouldn’t even need a ladder to install it — a step and two screws and it’s done,” Chaisson said. The Cross Cancer Institute does have donor walls for those making financial donations of $5,000 or more. People can also volunteer at the facility or help purchase new medical equipment which can be outfitted with memorial plaques.


School bus, minivan crash

LETHBRIDGE — A school bus driver is facing charges a bus rear-ended a minivan in southern Alberta.

Police in Lethbridge say the crash happened when the minivan stopped for a yellow light. The school bus was carrying 26 students and nine adults.

Three students suffered minor injuries, as did three people in the minivan.

Barry Stephen Dobek, 62, has been charged with following too closely under the Highway Traffic Act.


Chiropractor charged with sexual assault

MEDICINE HAT — A chiropractor in southeastern Alberta has been charged with sexual assault of a woman.

City police say a 28-year-old woman filed a complaint against a man this week.

Gary Bourdon, who is 57, appeared in court Thursday.

He was released from custody and is set to return to court on June 30.


Man accused of assaulting baby denied bail

CALGARY — A Calgary judge has denied bail to a man charged with assaulting a six-week-old baby boy.

Dale Kunath of High River faces charges of aggravated assault and aggravated sexual assault after an infant was found in medical distress at a home in southwest Calgary last year.

Calgary police charged Kunath after a lengthy investigation.

Other information from the bail hearing, including why the judge denied bail, is under a publication ban.