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Edmonton police officer charged with assault in 2019 arrest

An Edmonton police officer is facing assault charges after a violent arrest nearly four years ago.

Const. Alexander Doduk was investigated by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) for an incident on the morning of Nov. 26, 2019 in downtown Edmonton.

The police watchdog said at the time that Doduk used physical force and his police baton, leaving a 38-year-old man with a broken nose, bruising and a chipped tooth.

Doduk was charged Wednesday with assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.

The officer is also named in a civil lawsuit over the shooting death of a 33-year-old man in 2021.

Steven Nguyen was killed after police were called about a man reportedly armed with a knife in the north-central Rosslyn neighbourhood. A statement of claim filed by his family says Nguyen had mental health issues, and he wasn’t armed.

A statement of defence filed by Edmonton Police Service Chief Dale McFee identifies Doduk as the officer who shot Nguyen, firing six times after Nguyen took an object from his pocket that Doduk thought was a gun. According to the document, the object was a cell phone.

ASIRT is also investigating that case.

An EPS spokesperson said Doduk has been with the force for eight years, and he remains employed, but he is currently on an “unrelated” paid leave. The force’s Professional Standards Branch will investigate after court proceedings finish.

Doduk is set to appear in court on Oct. 11.

Details of the alleged assault

Justin LaFrance told CBC News he’s the person who was injured in the 2019 incident where Doduk has now been charged.

LaFrance said on that day, he was working at a construction site downtown when he heard a window break. LaFrance went to investigate and found someone outside, who he said pointed out another person who might be responsible for breaking the window. He said he followed them and flagged down an EPS vehicle at 97th Street and 103A Avenue.

LaFrance said Doduk got out of the car and immediately put the other person on the ground and arrested them. Then, LaFrance alleged that as he was trying to explain that he hadn’t actually seen what happened, Doduk started hitting him, eventually taking him to the ground and handcuffing him.

LaFrance said he blacked out and doesn’t remember everything that happened, but he’s seen video from the scene.

A man shows dark bruises on his arms in several photos spread on the ground.
Justin LaFrance said he was injured after he was forcefully arrested in 2019. (Submitted by Justin LaFrance)

“They laid charges on me in the ambulance on the way to the hospital saying I assaulted a police officer … It was a cop, and I was trying to do the right thing,” LaFrance said.

He said his injuries also included a fractured rib, and his glasses and phone were broken.

In the ASIRT release from December 2019, the incident is described as a police officer coming across “two men apparently involved in a dispute over a broken window.”

It goes on to describe a 38-year-old man “intervening” while the other was being arrested, and when the officer subsequently put him under arrest for assaulting a peace officer, “a struggle ensued resulting in the officer using physical force and his police baton.”

LaFrance said he never showed aggression during the encounter, and the charges against him were withdrawn.

“I hadn’t done anything wrong,” he said.

“It’s caused me severe PTSD. It turned my life upside down.”

LaFrance has also filed a civil lawsuit against Doduk and EPS.

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