A police officer who slammed a handcuffed woman to the ground face first has been given a 30-day conditional sentence for what a judge called an “egregious mistake.”
That means Alex Dunn, who was found guilty in December of assault causing bodily harm, will serve no time in jail, but rather a combination of 24-hour house arrest followed by house arrest with a curfew.
“I have faith he will make a difference and turn things around. This has been very hard for Mr. Dunn,” provincial court Judge Michelle Christopher said Tuesday. “You need to put this behind you. I don’t think you’re a bad person … a bad thing happened.”
The constable had brought in Dalia Kafi in December 2017 for breaking a curfew. A security camera in the arrest area at Calgary police headquarters captured what happened. The video played during his trial showed him throwing Kafi down and blood pooling on the ground where her face hit the floor.
“Because of the loss of public confidence in law enforcement … in all cases of police brutality, police must be held accountable when breaking the law,” the judge said.
“As a vulnerable person, handcuffed in the care of police, the complainant needed protection and not assault.”
Kafi is Black, but there was no suggestion from lawyers that the attack was racially motivated.
The judge agreed.
“There is no evidence that race is a factor in the actual assault,” Christopher said.
“This was an egregious mistake. The accused has otherwise been a law-abiding contributing member of society whose actions, while hurtful, were not premeditated. He acted out of frustration and he overreacted.”
Christopher said the attack was not sustained and the woman’s injuries were at the low end of the scale.
“These are not circumstances that speak to the need for incarceration. I find the accused’s moral culpability is relatively low.”
The Crown had asked for a nine-month jail term. Dunn’s lawyer recommended the conditional sentence.
Kafi had earlier attended the sentencing hearing and said in a victim impact statement that she was still suffering effects from the attack.
“I find it hard to trust people after the assault, especially the police. I still can’t understand how this could possibly happen at a police station from someone I thought was there to protect me,” she wrote.
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