ASIRT Completes Investigation into CPS Use-of-Force Incident

On February 13, 2015, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed by the Director of Law Enforcement to investigate the circumstances surrounding a use-of-force incident involving the Calgary Police Service (CPS).

On February 19, 2014, a 61-year-old man attended a Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in northwest Calgary with his common-law partner and his adult son to address an error involving a banking transaction. Inside the bank, the man became agitated, raising his voice at the staff. The bank manager asked the man to leave which he did, along with his family. Upon exiting the bank, he stood outside the doors and had a loud and heated confrontation with his common-law partner.

A bank employee, concerned about how the common-law partner was being treated, went outside to intervene, which only served to further anger the man. The man re-entered the bank continuing to yell, resulting in a staff member calling 911 requesting police assistance. The man was so loud and agitated that he could be heard yelling in the background during the 911 call.

Shortly after 5:21 p.m., CPS officers arrived and within seconds of the man exiting the bank to address the officers, a confrontation occurred. The RBC video confirms the man walked up to the officers with his left hand and forearm in front of his body. The officers were seen attempting to restrain his hands and/or arms when a struggle ensued. The man actively resisted resulting in him being taken to the ground. The man kept shifting his legs and torso, continuing to struggle while the officers attempted to place him in handcuffs. On an audio recording from one of the police vehicles a voice clearly telling someone to “stop resisting” can be overheard.

Civilian witnesses described the man as out of control and actively resisting police, while the officers kept telling him to calm down and stop resisting. Another witness indicated that the man was making people uncomfortable, disturbing the peace, and that his behaviour might have made it look like the man might attack someone.

The officers assisted the man in getting to his feet and placed him in a police vehicle, while other officers spoke with witnesses. At one point, the bank manager attended outside and advised the man he was banned from RBC property and would no longer be an RBC client. In light of this action, the bank elected not to pursue a complaint, and the man was released from custody on scene. As he was being released, the man complained about sore ribs. It was later determined that the man had sustained two fractured ribs.

ASIRT Executive Director Susan D. Hughson, Q.C., received and carefully reviewed the completed investigation. Based on the available evidence, there were reasonable grounds to believe that the man was committing the offence of causing a disturbance. Additionally, his conduct with police was overtly physically aggressive. Given his conduct and demeanour, the officers were lawfully placed and the force used was reasonable in the circumstances. The man’s rib fractures, although unfortunate, do not change this analysis. The man’s continued resistance made it necessary for the officers to use force and the rib fractures were a possible consequence. In the circumstances, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the officers committed an offence and as such, no charges are appropriate.

ASIRT’s mandate is to effectively, independently, and objectively investigate incidents involving Alberta’s police that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.