Calgary Police and Assault: Making Sense of Calgary's Crime News: Part 1

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Two recent incidents involving the Calgary Police have been causing controversy and concern amongst Calgary's citizens. While it would not be prudent for any legal professional in Calgary—a Crown prosecutor, a judge, or a criminal defence lawyer such as myself—to comment on the legal particulars of the two specific incidents themselves, they do raise issues of general concern to Calgary's society at large and its law enforcement and criminal justice system specifically.

These are issues I feel it is not only appropriate for me to comment on as a defender of Calgary's citizens and its liberties, but that in fact it is ethically incumbent upon me to help everyone in our city understand what their rights are, and how the rights and responsibilities of the Calgary Police affect those rights.

Is the Use of Force by Calgary Police Automatically Abusive?

The first incident involved a man allegedly involved in a road rage incident who, according to the Calgary Police, refused to identify himself and attempted to leave the scene while police were questioning him. A video shows the man being thrust to the ground by a uniformed Calgary Police officer, and being punched while on the ground and while other officers appear to be restraining him—according to the police, the man was continuing to resist and needed to be subdued. He was eventually given a ticket for "stunting"—a traffic infraction (not a criminal charge) that covers a range of possible actions—and released.

The second incident occurred less than a week later, inside Stampede Park, just outside the Nashville North tent of the Calgary Stampede. Again, a video taken by a witness shows the Calgary Police using force to bring a man to the ground, and multiple officers punching him while continuing to try and subdue him. The police have said they were responding to reports that the man seen in the video was intoxicated, was stealing other people's drinks, and had been asked to leave the premises but refused. While attempting to escort him out, the police allege that he tried to grab a "stun gun" off of one of the officer's belts where it was secured, and that this is what led to the sudden use of force in subduing him.

These stories are of clear concern to Calgary's citizens for several reasons, and those concerns are unquestionably heightened by headlines from the US involving police use of violence. These incidents could potentially lead to charges against the officers for criminal assault. The Calgary Police Service will have to investigate to determine whether or not charges will be laid against the officers. Of course there are limits to what is appropriate or not in terms of use of force by Calgary police. It will be interesting to see what comes of these incidents.

To learn why, please continue reading Part 2 of this article.

Don't Let the Calgary Police Take Away Your Rights

If you are arrested or detained by the Calgary Police, it is in your best interests not to resist and to identify yourself when requested. However, you also have the right not to answer any questions until you've been allowed to consult with an experienced Calgary criminal defence lawyer. Don't be intimidated into giving up your rights—insist on talking to a defence lawyer as soon as possible.

For a free initial consultation, please contact my office today.

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