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Video of arrest that netted 2 Edmonton police officers assault charges released

A video that shows a man being kicked in the head and struck in the back with a stun gun during his arrest by Edmonton police has been released by the courts, as one of two officers criminally charged in the case awaits trial.

The security footage was a key exhibit in the assault trial of Const. Dustin Adsett, one of two Edmonton police officers criminally charged in the March 2021 arrest of Lee Van Beaver. 

Adsett was found not guilty of assault with a weapon last month. 

Lawyers for Oli Olason, a former EPS constable who was charged alongside Adsett, had sought to keep a publication ban on the arrest video in place until the conclusion of his case. Olason is scheduled for trial in May 2025.  

Court of King’s Bench Justice Kent Davidson lifted an interim publication ban on the video in early May but its release was delayed. CBC News was provided a copy of the footage this week.

The video shows Beaver being apprehended in an alleyway in Edmonton’s Ritchie neighbourhood.

He can be seen surrendering to police who had arrived at the scene in an unmarked vehicle. 

He drops to his knees and then to the ground before an officer stomps his boot into Beaver’s head.  

WATCH | Raw security video shows arrest of man by Edmonton police officers:

RAW: Security video shows arrest of man by Edmonton police officers

2 hours ago

Duration 2:46

The March 2021 arrest of Lee Van Beaver was captured on a security camera in Edmonton’s Ritchie neighbourhood. Two officers involved in the arrest were later criminally charged. Const. Dustin Adsett has been acquitted of assault with a weapon. Oli Olason, a former EPS constable, is awaiting trial. A publication ban on the raw footage was lifted following a court challenge by CBC News.

At the time of Adsett’s acquittal, lawyers for Olason applied to have a publication ban that had been placed on both the arrest video and OIason’s name to be extended.

CBC News successfully challenged that application in court, with Davidson ruling that restrictions on the video and the officer’s name should be lifted. 

In his May, 2024 decision, Davidson said Olason’s defence team had not proven that his right to a fair trial would be harmed by the release of the video or his identifying information. 

A proper jury instruction will not prevent bias from creeping into the jury room.– Justice Kent Davidson decision

“Other than submissions from counsel, there is nothing before me that suggests a challenge for cause and a proper jury instruction will not prevent bias from creeping into the jury room,” Davidson wrote.

“The protections offered by a publication ban on the applicant’s fair trial rights are far outweighed by the damage that a publication ban could have on the free press and the open court principle, and the transparency required to give the public faith in the court process.” 

Olason and Adsett were jointly charged with assault and assault with a weapon in September 2022, following an investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team. 

The police watchdog alleged the officers used force and employed an electronic stun gun to subdue Beaver and that charges were warranted.

Use of force reasonable, despite compliance

Five EPS members were involved in the arrest. Adsett used a conducted electrical weapon, also known as a Taser, during the incident. 

Adsett was acquitted, in part, because he did not see the first part of the interaction and believed his officers were attempting to subdue an unco-operative suspect. 

Davidson ruled that Adsett’s use of force was justified even though Beaver was complying with police. 

During Adsett’s trial, Beaver testified he was walking to a friend’s home early that morning when he became concerned he was being followed by a black vehicle with tinted windows.

Beaver told court he was worried about being attacked, and took a canister of bear spray out of his bag and showed it to the vehicle. He then headed down an alley near 96th Street and 76th Avenue.  

The vehicle was an unmarked Edmonton police vehicle, driven by officers who then pursued Beaver in the alley.

The video surveillance footage shows one of the officers unholster his weapon while Olason has his hand on his holster.

Beaver slowly removes his backpack, drops it on the ground, gets to his knees and then lays face down on the ground. 

As the officers move in, Olason stands with his foot on Beaver’s head, and then kicks Beaver in the head. Davidson found that Beaver was moving his hands while on the ground in an effort to protect his face. 

Court heard that Beaver was treated for various lacerations including a cut to his lower lip and that paramedics removed two Taser probes from the skin of his shoulder and upper back.

In acquitting Adsett, Davidson found that given the scene Adsett was presented with when he arrived after the arrest was underway, it was reasonable for him to deploy the stun gun.

Davidson found that while Beaver deserved “more compassion, dignity, respect and empathy” than he was treated with, Adsett shouldn’t be the one held responsible for what happened.  

“In hindsight, the accused was mistaken. But police are entitled to be wrong when they act reasonably,” Davidson told court. 

At the time of his arrest, Beaver was wanted on warrants and had a criminal record, but none of the police involved knew about his record.

In a statement to CBC News Friday, Edmonton police said that after reviewing the video in March 2021, a copy was immediately shared with the director of Law Enforcement, who directed the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team to investigate.

Following Adsett’s acquittal, the EPS Professional Standards Branch conducted a review into his conduct, and “no misconduct was identified,” police said.

Olason resigned in 2021 and is no longer an officer, police said. 

“The EPS will continue to co-operate as required as the court hearing proceeds. With the matter before the courts, we are unable to provide any further comment.”

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