Calgary, AB,

Officer charged with on-duty assault

Our Professional Standards Section, in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service in Edmonton, has charged an officer with assault in connection with an on-duty incident.

The incident occurred on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, following a 20-minute police pursuit of a stolen vehicle. After fleeing from police at high rates of speed and attempting to ram police vehicles, the driver left the stolen vehicle and fled on foot. Officers located him and took him into custody following a brief struggle a short time later.

After the man was in custody, handcuffed and laying on the ground, it is believed that an officer who was not part of the initial arrest arrived and applied force that was not required, necessary or reasonable as part of his duties.

The incident was investigated after a standard review of the police pursuit flagged the use of force concern.

Constable Benjamin Zampa is charged with one count of assault in connection with this incident. He has been assigned to administrative duties and his status will be reviewed as appropriate. He has worked for the Service for four years.

Police conduct in Alberta is governed by the Criminal Code of Canada, and Alberta’s Police Act and Police Service Regulation. Officers are permitted to use reasonable and necessary force in the execution of their duties, but they can be charged if there are grounds to believe the force was excessive or not required at all.

When concerns about force used by an officer arise, an internal investigation determines what happened and evaluates whether police actions followed the law, our policies and officer training. There is a range of potential outcomes if an investigation finds evidence of misconduct, including changes to policies and training, reprimands, demotions, pay deductions, suspensions, dismissals and criminal charges.

Criminal charges can be laid against officers in cases where the evidence supports it, but only after the Crown Prosecution Service has conducted a thorough review. When criminal charges are laid, the court process for those charges must conclude before any internal discipline or dismissal can be considered.

Decisions about an officer’s status during the court and disciplinary process are based on factors like risk to the public, procedural fairness and options available for modified duties.