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No charges recommended after man kicked in the head by Edmonton officer during 2019 arrest: ASIRT

A police watchdog report released Friday determined that Edmonton Police Service officers were justified in shooting a man – but not in kicking him in the head – during a 2019 arrest.

Neither the injured man, who was 18 years old at the time, nor the officers, are publicly named in the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) probe.

According to ASIRT, a GPS unit on a stolen Ram 5500 led police to the man at 100 Street and 106 Avenue in downtown Edmonton on April 30 at around 7:40 a.m.

The truck was parked and appeared to be empty when officers approached it to confirm the licence plate.

“At that point, the [man] sat up in the passenger side of the stolen truck and slid over to the driver’s seat. He quickly drove backwards into [a] police vehicle,” the report says.

Two officers pulled their guns and began firing at the man driving the truck, it states, who then rammed another police vehicle.

The officer from that cruiser also fired their gun.

The man was shot in the shoulder and slumped in his seat. Officers approached the truck and ordered him to put it in park and open the door.

“[He] eventually put the vehicle in park but did not open the door. [An officer] broke the vehicle’s window and opened the door, and [another] pulled the [man] out and to the ground,” ASIRT states.

The bullet fractured the man’s upper arm bone and he required surgery.

Both he and two civilian witnesses reported that an EPS officer kicked him in the head during the arrest.

“They grabbed him, threw him to the ground, and then hit his head, kicked his sides, and stomped on his head. He heard them laughing,” ASIRT said of the injured man’s report.

ASIRT concluded the officers’ decisions to shoot at the man were reasonable because he “was clearly endangering the lives of the subject officers” at that time.

But the watchdog concluded: “There is no evidence to indicate that [the head kick] was a justifiable use of force,” adding, “The sequence of events may indicate that the kick was retaliation for what the [man] had just done.”

Neither witness could say for certain which officer kicked the man in the head and none of the officers included the kick in their reports, although one stated “significant force had to be used to handcuff him.”

“Unfortunately, there is also no evidence about which of the subject officers kicked the [man] in the head. Without such evidence, there are not reasonable grounds to believe any one officer committed an offence in relation to the kick,” states the report signed by ASIRT assistant executive director Matthew Block.

An aerial ASIRT photo of the scene of an officer-involved shooting in downtown Edmonton on April 30, 2019.

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