EDMONTON — About 100 people gathered in front of an Alberta Justice building on Saturday to support Pacey Dumas, an Indigenous man who was kicked in the head by an Edmonton police officer in 2020.
"Justice for Pacey," boomed throughthe crowd. Many wore orange and some carried signs calling for police accountability and reform.
Dumas was at the event but did not speak publicly. Some family members who did called on the Crown to reconsider its decision not to charge the officer.
The province's police watchdog released a report in April that recommended criminal charges against the officer, but the Crown decided not to pursue a case.
"The (officer) was standing above a 90-pound, 18-year-old and pointing a firearm at him with two other officers nearby offering assistance," said the report from Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.
"While the law allows police to use force during an arrest in appropriate circumstances, using a life-altering kick directly to the head … as a first resort cannot be supported."
The injured man and officer were not identified in the report.
Pacey Dumas and his family have filed a lawsuit against Const. Ben Todd, alleging he kicked Dumas in the head "like a soccer ball." Police Chief Dale McFee and six unnamed officers are also listed as defendants.
The statement of claim says officers responded to a call about a fight at a home in the early hours of Dec. 9, 2020. They were told that a knife was present, and a brother of Dumas was placed in handcuffs while Dumas was ordered to the ground, says the document.
The lawsuit alleges Todd kicked Dumas without warning or provocation, causing him serious injury. Doctors had to remove a portion of his skull to ease pressure from his brain and a metal plate was later put into his head, says the document.
No charges were laid against Dumas or his brother.
"Const. Ben Todd should be facing a charge of aggravated assault," said a statement from Hilary Steinke-Attia, a lawyer for the Dumas family. "(That) would be the case against any civilian causing this level of harm to another civilian or to an officer."
None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court. And astatement of defence denies the allegations.
The defence document says that Dumas, while on the ground, announced to officer that he had a knife in his pocket and began reaching for it.
"The EPS members were required to act swiftly to address the lethal threat and Const. Todd delivered one kick to Pacey’s head as it was the closest target to him, and from his assessment it was the only option to address the threat without moving and placing the other EPS members at risk," says the statement of defence.
No knife was found on the brothers or at the home, said Steinke-Attia. A pocket knife discovered during on the street the next day was determined to be unrelated, she said.
Edmonton police said that they are conducting their own investigation and that Todd is on leave with pay.
At the protest, family members also spoke in memory of Blair Dumas, who died by suicide last year after battling depression.
"Justice for Pacey and Blair," the crowd yelled.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2023.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Angela Amato, The Canadian Press