Former Calgary police officer appeals sentence for assaulting prisoner

Former Calgary police officer appeals sentence for assaulting prisoner

The Alberta Court of Appeal has upheld the prison sentence of a former Calgary police officer who assaulted a prisoner in 2017.

Const Alex Dunn, who was sacked by the CPS in November last year, was found guilty in 2020 of assaulting Dalia Kafi, a woman arrested for breaching her curfew.

In December 2017, Kafi was taken to the Calgary police station in handcuffs by Dunn.

A security camera inside the building showed Dunn throwing the woman to the ground, injuring her face.

Dunn was originally given a 30-day suspended sentence by a judge, but that sentence was overturned on appeal. The judge sentenced him to 30 days in jail, to be served intermittently, followed by six months of probation and 75 hours of community service.

In another appeal, heard in March by Dunn as appellant and the Calgary Police Association as intervener, it was argued that the prison sentence was inappropriate.

“This appeal raises questions about the appropriateness of the sentence imposed by the appeals court. Both the appellant and the intervener argue that a non-custodial sentence was appropriate; and that a custodial sentence was inappropriate,” the appeals court said.

“We don’t agree.”

During the original trial, Dunn testified that he assaulted Kafi out of fear that she had removed one hand from her handcuffs and could use it as a weapon against him.

He then performed a “dynamic takedown” on her, a judo-style throw to the ground.

It was only when she was on the ground that he realized she was still securely bound.

“The appellant’s explanation was not believed and rejected by the judge at first instance, who noted that

“This was contradicted by the video and the prosecution’s evidence,” the court said.

According to the court, the video was viewed more than 11 million times on social media.

“The trial judge concluded that the appellant had simply lost his patience and that his ‘dynamic punishment’ of the prosecutor was unjustified and excessive.

“He was therefore convicted as charged.”

At the March hearing, Alberta Court of Appeal Judge Peter Martin and Justice Jolaine Antonio called Dunn’s actions an “unprovoked attack on a defenseless person” and requested a prison sentence.

The Calgary Police Association said it was concerned that a “momentary error of judgment or mistake” by a police officer could result in a prison sentence. However, the appeals court said it would be “wrong” to think the court would grant leniency to police officers in Dunn’s position.

“(We) will not accept that members of a professional police force such as the Calgary Police Service will abandon their oath and duty for fear that if they are found guilty of committing a senseless or unprovoked attack, they may be punished to the full extent of the law.

“The answer is that we should refrain from such behavior.”

The third appeal judge, Judge Frans Slatter, disagreed with the decision. He called the new appeal “irrelevant” since the original sentence had already been served and the court had suspended the revised sentence.

“The appropriate punishment to be imposed when police officers assault detainees will have to be determined by common law tradition and on a case-by-case basis,” Slatter wrote.

“Sentencing remains an individualized process and there is no flat rate in these cases. There is no rule that a prison sentence is always mandatory, but there is also no rule that a prison sentence is never appropriate.”