Police Discrimination

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  • EPS officer on probation after assaulting a man and leaving him in the river valley

    On December 11, 2017, Const. Matthew O’Mara and his partner ordered Craig Jephtas-Crail to leave the Jasper Avenue and 104 Street 7-Eleven where he had been sleeping to stay warm. Once Jephtas-Crail was down on the sidewalk outside, O'Mara delivered two punches to his head, one of them was after he was already in handcuffs. After the arrest for trespassing and public intoxication, the two officers put Craig Jephtas-Crail into the police car, drove him to the river valley and left him there. The vehicle’s GPS system was switched off during the drive. In a victim impact statement, Jephtas-Crail said: “as a person with a disability and already facing barriers, it left me feeling as though I was worth next to nothing.” A report from a psychologist states that at the time of the arrest O’Mara was suffering from “florid PTSD symptoms” related to his military service in Afghanistan. Because of his prior experience, O'Mara was let into the EPS through the experienced officer training program, an accelerated, eight-week training course. Other officers typically undergo 27 weeks of training. He had no prior patrol experience before being assigned downtown. During the sentencing, his mental state was taken into account as the court was considering imprisonment. Provincial court Judge D’Arcy DePoe sentenced Const. Matthew O’Mara to 18 months probation for his assault of Craig Jephtas-Crail, stating that during the arrest officer O’Mara failed to follow at least seven EPS policies for dealing with injured arrestees, including assessing Jephtas-Crail for injuries, announcing the use of force over the radio and completing a written report about the arrest. O’Mara has been relieved from duty without pay and will be required to report to a probation officer, perform 100 hours of community service and attend counselling.
  • A photo of a poster depicting a Black man in minstrel-style makeup and a Zulu outfit with his hands up, a German Shepherd in the foreground. The text reads "Buddy's First Get em! Get em!" "Whoooooa!!! WTF? Dad!"

    Racist images posted in canine unit locker room

    A pair of images were posted in the canine unit locker room containing racist caricatures of Black and Indigenous people. One shows what appears to be a minstrel-show-style Zulu warrior in front of a cutout of a police dog, below the words “Buddy’s First Get em! Get em!” Another image features the cover of the children’s book The Indian in the Cupboard, with the titular character saying “Beny will never find me in here!!” After an investigation by EPS' Professional Standards Branch, the officers involved were directed to undergo a 'restorative justice' process with members of Edmonton's Black and Indigenous communities, the details of which are unspecified in media reporting.
  • A video shot from a nearby building shows a man restrained facedown on the ground by two police officers, one who appears to have his knee on the man's neck. He is then forced to his feet and dragged to a nearby cruiser. Throughout the video the man cries out in pain and asks the officers to stop.

    Edmonton Police beat Indigenous man after being stopped because he had no bell on his bike

    On August 27, 2019, EPS Constable Curtis McCargar stopped Elliot McLeod -an Indigenous man- either giving no reason as to why (according to McLeod) or because he did not have a bell on his bicycle (according to McCargar). McLeod gave a false name to the officer and either immediately rode off or did so as McCargar entered the name in his cruiser’s computer. McCargar then pursued McLeod in his vehicle while radioing for assistance. After catching up, McCargar tackled McLeod and proceeded to punch him in the back of the head several times. By this point Constable Michael Partington had arrived by vehicle and immediately delivered a diving knee strike between McLeod's shoulder blades causing McLeod to scream in pain telling the officers to stop. At no point during this, according to McLeod, eyewitness testimony, and video evidence was he resisting. The two officers then handcuff McLeod and drag him into a police cruiser. McLeod was charged with four offences, including resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. Police were sent a video of the incident filmed by a bystander, but withheld it from prosecutors for four months following the incident. When the video was disclosed, the charges against McLeod were stayed, and Constable Partington charged and convicted for assault. Cst. Partington was relieved from duty without pay on the day of the arrest, a decision which he appealed for judicial review by the Court of Queen's Bench. His application was dismissed by a judge in 2021.
  • A seated indigenous man in a blue sweatshirt holding up a photograph of himself, unconscious and bruised in hospital.

    Edmonton Police sued after officer allegedly kicks Indigenous youth in the head

    At about 4:15 a.m. officers responded to a trouble not known call at a home in the area of 62 Avenue and 178 Street with reports that a fight involving a weapon was taking place inside. During the search, police asked Pacey Dumas and his brother Blair, who is a year older, to step outside. Both complied. Blair was placed in handcuffs, while Pacey was ordered laid face down on the sidewalk with his hands out. “Suddenly and without warning (Todd; the officer) moved swiftly to Pacey and while in motion kicked Pacey in the right side of his head with such force Pacey was immediately rendered unconscious and bleeding,” After the alleged assault, Pacey was “dragged” by two unknown officers to a spot two houses away. It claims none of the officers who attended the scene gave Pacey medical attention.
  • A screengrab from the bystander video of the incident, showing three police officers piled on top of another person sprawled on the floor of a convenience store.

    Two men injured by police in violent mistaken identity arrest at Circle K convenience store

    A complaint of police brutality and misconduct has been filed against city officers by a man who says his wrongful arrest felt more like a kidnapping. In a formal complaint to the Edmonton Police Service’s Professional Standards Branch, Jamie-Dean Sauter recounts being arrested in a Circle K at 116 Street and 104 Avenue on May 14 (2020) around 8:15 p.m. By Sauter’s account, he was approached by six EPS members, told he was under arrest for stealing a vehicle, and – as he was offering to show them his ID, license, registration and insurance – slammed to the ground. “I was still calm enough at the point, if I just present my driver’s license, my insurance, my registration, this will clearly be cleared up,” he remembers thinking. But on the ground, Sauter says he was punched, had the boot of one officer wiped across his face, effectively blindfolded by a covering over his face, and taken to a station whose location he would not learn until later. “It was one of the most dehumanizing, delegitimatizing things I’ve experienced because I felt it was done to let me know I’m dirt beneath your boot.” Sauter wrote to the EPS Professional Standards Branch on May 20, “This all to me did not appear to be an arrest but rather a kidnapping.” The 37-year-old says he manages several health conditions, and worried the confrontation would end in a heart attack or suffocation. “It was reckless, thoughtless, and degrading… How quickly they escalated to use violence was baffling and bewildering to me, especially given I was willing to cooperate, engage, and comply with the six officers,” his complaint reads. Sauter identifies as being of Black/Indigenous/Latin/European/East Asian descent. In the letter, he also writes he believes his ethnicity was a “determining factor in how this arrest was conducted” and recalls being mocked for his assumed sexuality. Twenty-four-year-old Joshua Powell was at the Circle K’s check-out counter when he says “about six cops bust through the door and just seemed to tackle this man without even asking for identification—anything, like any sort of explanation.” With his phone already in hand as he had waited to pay, Powell started recording. “I just had a gut feeling that, ‘Hey, something’s not right here and I should probably be recording this,” he recalled. At least three officers are seen in the video taking Sauter to the ground as Powell’s video starts. Sauter can be heard yelling, “Ow,” and asking, “What are you doing?” Powell tells Sauter, “If you stop moving, they won’t hurt you,” and moves to find a better camera angle – but as he does, an officer appears to attempt to block his view. “I couldn’t really capture it on film due to the way officers were blocking my footage,” he told CTV News Edmonton. On camera, he tells the police, “That was a bit excessive from an outside perspective.” Powell ended up being arrested for obstruction of justice. In the video, as his camera is shaken around, he’s heard saying: “I’m just filming. What are you doing to me?” “This guy’s trying to get my phone. I gotta save this video and lock my phone,” he recalled thinking. Minutes later, he says he was he was carried out, also hooded, and put in a police vehicle in front of his clueless girlfriend. “We had no power. I was called a little b*tch. I was called a f*ggot. They wouldn’t let me speak to my girlfriend to tell her what was going on.” Both men allege the treatment continued at the downtown EPS station, where the men were held in custody. “I just know from movies and stuff, you get a phone call, right?” Powell asked, saying he wasn’t afforded one. Sauter said he was allowed to make calls to his brother, who is a detective with EPS, and Legal Aid. However, he says he received no medical attention for the bruising, cuts, swelling or shock he was experiencing. He experienced pain for days afterward, and still has neck and back issues, he told CTV News Edmonton. The 24-year-old witness also says he sustained abrasions on his wrists from too-tight handcuffs, forehead and facial bruising, and a cut on his shin from the ordeal. Both were released around 12:30 a.m. By then, officers had verified Sauter’s insurance and ownership of the vehicle, whose plate, police discovered, had been replaced with a stolen one. As he left, Sauter says he was told he needed “to learn how to conduct yourself around officers." Sauter was never charged. The charge against Powell was stayed July 8. Both men have filed official complaints and obtained lawyers, but none of their accusations have been tested or proven in court. EPS confirmed two Professional Standards Branch investigations are open, related to the complaints filed by Sauter and Powell. Spokesperson Cheryl Voordenhout said there are eight officers who are subject to the investigations. “At this time, it is too early to determine any changes to the duty status of the officers. As per standard procedure, duty status is evaluated on an ongoing basis as the investigation unfolds,” she wrote to media. The response has left Sauter unsatisfied, and he reiterated a sentiment he first expressed in the letter to the Professional Standards Branch, Edmonton Police Commission, and Chief Dale McFee: “I don’t feel safe with them out.” Sauter repeatedly told CTV News Edmonton his experiences with police had previously been positive, but after his own “traumatizing” arrest and hearing Minneapolis man George Floyd uttered the same words he did beneath the knee of a policeman — “I can’t breathe” — also said he’s come to believe law enforcement need to be held more accountable. Widespread use of body cams, he said, could help others in the same way a stranger helped him. “Had this video not been available, it would’ve left my credibility tarnished… I would have to be up against six to seven officers, and I would have no actual proof of what occurred,” Sauter told CTV News Edmonton, speaking of Powell’s short clip in the Circle K. “He’s my hero. He’s incredibly brave. He has incredible integrity and moral character. He’s not a coward. His intuition was correct and he did the right thing.” (Text from CTV News article, July 9, 2020) Both Sauter and Powell are represented by lawyers. In his complaint to the Professional Standards Branch, Sauter stated "This all to me did not appear to be an arrest but rather a kidnapping.” He believes he sustained injuries that caused a curve in his spine, along with ongoing pain, migranes, and possible PTSD. The Archive team is seeking the results of the Professional Standards Branch investigations and will update this entry when more information is available.