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Alberta’s police watchdog investigating takedown that led to head injury

Mike watches a video of RCMP taking him down during an incident that occurred at the Emerald Hills Apartments in Sherwood Park on July 21, 2020. (CITYNEWS/Carly Robinson)
Summary

The man said he was heavily intoxicated during the encounter with RCMP and does not remember the takedown.

Alberta RCMP say they are reviewing the incident along with the officer’s duty status.

Neighbours told CityNews that the man has been arrested before, one sharing a video of an arrest back in March.

EDMONTON (CITYNEWS) – The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating an incident in which a man suffered a head injury during an RCMP arrest at an apartment complex in Sherwood Park Tuesday evening.

One minute into a video shared widely online [warning: graphic images and language], an RCMP officer approaches an elderly man and grabs him by the arm. The two remain in that position, in discussion, for several seconds.

The officer then tackles the man to the ground and pins him down, putting his knee on the man’s neck. When the tenant taking the video zooms in, it is clear the elderly man is bleeding profusely from the head.

The incident occurred at the Emerald Hills Apartments in Sherwood Park, where the man lives.

CityNews spoke to him after he was released from hospital and returned home on Wednesday. Mike – who preferred not sharing his last name – said he was heavily intoxicated during the encounter with RCMP and does not remember the takedown.

“Who took me down? A resident or the RCMP?,” said Mike, prior to seeing the video. “And he stuffed me in the ambulance, correct? I’ve got bleeding on the brain.

“I’m trying to deal with some personal problems and alcoholism… I’m hoping that everything’s going to work out okay. Alcohol abuse is a bad thing.”

CityNews then showed Mike video of the incident.

“That’s my head hitting the ground,” he said after watching it a few times. “I have no comment. You might consider that excessive, but I have no comment.”

Strathcona County RCMP say the incident began around 6:13 p.m. when they responded to a fire originating from Mike’s apartment while he was away.

One tenant, who spoke to CityNews on the condition of anonymity, suspected the fire started when Mike fell asleep while cooking.

About an hour later, RCMP say they responded to another call involving an intoxicated Mike chasing a vehicle and being belligerent at a Sherwood Park coffee house. There is video of this as well.

RCMP say Mike returned to his apartment complex at approximately 7:54 p.m., where he engaged in a verbal confrontation with tenants and a fire services member. Mike allegedly assaulted a fire services member on scene.

“The responding officer went to place the man under arrest during which the male was taken to the ground and as a result suffered an injury,” said Alberta RCMP in a release. “EMS (Emergency Medical Services) was immediately dispatched and the male was taken to hospital and has subsequently been released.”

Alberta RCMP say they are reviewing the incident along with the officer’s duty status.

Neighbours told CityNews that Mike has been arrested before, one sharing a video of an arrest back in March.

Lawyer Tom Engel says the use of force was not an appropriate police tactic – regardless of the events leading up to the arrest. He calls the tackle “martial arts done poorly.”

“For those who are saying we don’t know what he said… all you have to do is ask the officer,” said Engel. “And if he was complying with RCMP policy, he should have had an audio-video recording going, and an audio recorder on his person.”

Since the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Engel says he believes Canadian police are acting much quicker to launch investigations into excessive use of force.