EDMONTON — Alberta's police watchdog says an Edmonton officer who kicked an Indigenous teen in the head and caused severe injuries will not face charges, despite what it calls a shocking lack of judgment and disregard for life.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, or ASIRT, said in a report Thursday there were reasonable grounds to believe an offence had been committed, but the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service recommended no charges be laid.
"The public expects significantly better from a police officer," ASIRT said in its report Thursday.
"The (officer) was standing above a 90-pound 18-year-old and pointing a firearm at him with two other officers nearby offering assistance. While the law allows police to use force during an arrest in appropriate circumstances, using a life-altering kick directly to the head of (the teen) as a first resort cannot be supported."
"It showed a shocking lack of judgment and disregard for the life of the (teen)."
The teen and officer were not identified in the ASIRT report.
The young man who was injured, Pacey Dumas, and his family have filed a lawsuit against Edmonton police and Const. Ben Todd. Allegations in that lawsuit have not been proven in court.
Reacting to the ASIRT report, the lawyer for the Dumas family accused the prosecution service of trying to cover up police misconduct.
"The whole point of ASIRT is to have an independent investigative body that investigates and ensures transparency and accountability to the public," Heather Steinke-Attia said.
"What is the point of ASIRT if at the end of two years of investigative hard work … the Crown prosecution can just kibosh it in secrecy under the cloak of privilege?"
Greg Ball, an adviser with the prosecution service, said in an email that a prosecutor "reviewed the investigation and surrounding circumstances and concluded that the charges did not meet our standard for prosecution."
Before a person may be convicted of any crime, the offence must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, Ball added.
He said the service "has carefully and thoroughly reviewed the entire file provided by ASIRT and consulted with an independent expert on the use of force in reaching the determination not to proceed with a prosecution."
ASIRT's report said officers responded to a call about a fight at a residence in the early hours of Dec. 9, 2020, and were told that a knife was present. Officers took control of an 18-year-old and his older brother upon arriving.
The report said that the teen was reaching into his pocket before he was kicked in the face by the officer "like a soccer ball," causing a head injury so severe that doctors had to remove a portion of his skull to ease pressure from his brain.
No charges were laid against Dumas or his brother.
"This family has been through so much," Steinke-Attia said.
"We are not gonna take this lying down."
Edmonton police have said that they will be conducting their own investigation and that Todd is currently on leave with pay.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2023.
Angela Amato, The Canadian Press