'Use-of-force never looks good': Saskatoon Police Association defends cops filmed during arrest
SASKATOON -- A video showing the recent arrest of a man does not show the full context of the interaction, according to the Saskatoon Police Association (SPA).
The video shared on social media, shows the arrest of Evan Penner, an Indigenous man, over the weekend.
In the video an officer is seen holding Penner on the ground and striking him multiple times. Other officers assisting with the arrest are also seen striking Penner and using a Taser.
The SPA hopes people will withhold judgement until a full, independent investigation can take place, President Dean Pringle said in a news release.
“Obviously recent events around policing in North America have people concerned right now and our members fully understand why there is increased scrutiny in these events,” he said.
“However we believe strongly that a fulsome investigation will show that our officers acted appropriately given the circumstances, which were that the individual facing arrest was actively resisting, and attempting to take control of equipment on the officers’ belt that could have quickly increased the danger to the individual, the public, and the officers themselves.”
On Saturday, July 4 around 2 p.m. Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) says an officer responded to a complaint of a suspicious man in the 500 block of 11 St. E.
According to police, the man caused damage to a property and the officer attempted to take the man into custody but he resisted and attempted to disarm the officer. The officer deployed pepper spray and a Taser but they were ineffective.
Officers were eventually able to take the man, 27, into custody and he faces charges including assaulting a police officer, disarming a police officer, mischief and possession of a controlled substance.
Two local advocacy groups, the Indigenous Joint Action Coalition and Black Lives Matter Saskatoon, are calling for the officers involved to be fired.
“What we saw is about eight officers beating up a First Nations man and using pepper spray, as well as a Taser to restrain him. It looks like he is pleading for them to stop,” Erica Violet Lee, a spokesperson for Indigenous Joint Action Coalition, told CTV News Monday.
The SPA says this was the second time that day officers had responded to a call regarding the man, who had earlier been apprehended and released following a complaint he had exposed himself to a member of the community.
“The simple fact is that use-of-force never looks good, however it is the last resort for our officers. Over 99 per cent of our calls for service are resolved peacefully because of the de-escalation techniques our officers are trained to use,” Pringle said in the release.
“Unfortunately, not every situation can be resolved with words, and this case highlights how quickly circumstances change, and the split-second decisions our officers have to make.”
SPS says the man showed the effects of addictions and related mental health issues during the incident, and his condition will form part of the investigation.
On Monday, SPS Chief Troy Cooper said the Saskatchewan Public Complaints Commission will conduct an investigation.
The officer involved has been placed on leave until an initial review of his response and use-of-force can be completed.
With files from Creeson Agecoutay