CALGARY — A judge has ruled that a Calgary police officer used excessive force against a suspect who was seriously injured during an arrest.
Const. James Othen has been convicted of assault causing bodily harm and of assault with a weapon for his role in a traffic stop.
Two other officers were found not guilty of assault charges, while Othen was cleared of public mischief.
Court heard during a trial last year that police chased Clayton Prince when he ran away after being pulled over.
Prince suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a facial cut and significant bruising.
Charges against Prince of resisting arrest and possession of marijuana were later stayed.
Prince, who was 34 at the time of the July 2016 arrest, told the trial that he was trying to escape from police because he had been at a music festival and had been smoking marijuana prior to the traffic stop.
Prince said three officers caught him, placed him in handcuffs and proceeded to punch and kick him.
Video from a police dashboard camera presented in court showed officers chasing Prince out of the frame. Several minutes later, the recording showed a bloodied Prince being escorted back to a police cruiser.
Court heard that when Prince was in the cruiser, Othen dug the point of a key into Prince's neck behind the ear. The injury became infected and required medical attention.
Othen testified in court last fall that his adrenaline was pumping and he feared for his safety as he and about a half dozen other officers were trying to take down Prince.
He said his stress level was at an "all-time high" and he became more anxious when he saw a fellow officer draw his gun as Prince was being chased through a sushi restaurant.
Othen said that, at one point, Prince started to move toward officers, so he thought there was going to be a fight.
The dashcam video contradicted police accounts of what happened.
Four officers had responded to the scene but only three faced charges following an investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which reviews all serious police actions.
The two other constables involved were Kevin Humfrey and Michael Sandalak.
Provincial court Judge Margaret Keelaghan acquitted Humfrey of assault causing bodily harm and found Sandalak not guilty of assault.
(CTV Calgary, The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press
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