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 that occurred late last year.

On Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, two officers were called to the South Health Campus Emergency Room after an intoxicated man refused to leave when asked. When they arrived, they found that hospital security had handcuffed the man and seated him in a wheelchair to wait for police. One of the police officers then had an altercation with the man where it is alleged he unnecessarily forced the man onto the ground where more force was then applied.

Following a thorough investigation, Constable Eric Plummer is charged with one count of assault in connection with this incident. He has been relieved from duty with pay pending further review. He has been at CPS for 11 years.

Police conduct in Alberta is governed by the Criminal Code of Canada, and Alberta’s Police Act and Police Service Regulations. Officers are permitted to use reasonable force in the execution of their duties, but they can be charged if the force is alleged to be excessive.

Criminal charges are laid in cases where the evidence supports it, however, officers can also face internal discipline under the Police Service Regulations in cases where criminal charges are not supported by the evidence.

When criminal charges are laid, officers are both tried in court and face an internal disciplinary process. The court process has to finish before the internal disciplinary process can proceed. This ensures that any internal investigation does not impact the criminal proceedings. The internal process determines whether any discipline, up to and including dismissal, is appropriate.

The Police Service Regulations also govern when an officer can be relieved from duty and the Chief Constable makes the decision based on factors like risk to the public, concern for the officer and options available for modified duties. The officer must be paid during this time unless our Chief Constable can articulate exceptional circumstances that justify relief from duty without pay and the Calgary Police Commission approves that decision.

In 2019, our officers had over 605,000 face-to-face interactions with the public (calls for service, traffic stops, officer-generated calls, etc.). During those interactions, force beyond handcuffing and basic control techniques was applied 939 times. About 0.2 per cent of our interactions last year, both ones with and without force, resulted in a complaint to the Professional Standards Section.