Police take-down in Abbotsford:
Police brutality or legitimate use of force?

By Staff Writers
CBC News

Video taken by Ryan Skeete

Police in Abbotsford, B.C., are investigating after a video was posted on YouTube showing an officer stomping on and kicking a drug suspect who is lying face down on the ground, while another officer walks on the back of the suspect's legs.

The incident happened Oct. 9 during a police takedown of three drug-trafficking suspects near a high school, according to a police news release.

The two officers involved reported that they witnessed a drug deal and then moved in and applied a variety of physical tactics to keep one of the suspects on the ground.

The car that the suspects were forcibly removed from can be seen rolling out of a driveway, unoccupied.

The video then shows one officer twice stepping on the head of one suspect and kicking him in the side three times while another officer walks on the suspect's legs.

Abbotsford police have notified B.C.'s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, but also said the actions might have been justified under the circumstances.

"They are challenged, not only by the fact that they are out-numbered in terms of three bad guys and two police officers, but they also have the suspect vehicle rolling into the street," Abbotsford police spokesman Const. Ian MacDonald told CBC News.

Transparency is key: police spokesman

The incident was recorded by professional cameraman Ryan Skeete, who posted it on YouTube. Skeete declined to comment when contacted by CBC News.

One of the officers involved in the takedown found the video on YouTube and brought it to his superior's attention, MacDonald said.

"Our chief constable ordered our professional standards section to make contact with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner to start a Police Act investigation," MacDonald said.

"We want to ensure we have public confidence at the end of the day and we are a transparent organization."

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association said the incident involved an excessive use of force, which was not being addressed by police.

Association executive director David Eby said the way the Abbotsford police force was handling the situation was an instance of police "getting ahead of the message rather than responding to the core issue, which is they have two officers that basically beat up a man lying on the ground."

Both officers seen making the arrests were still on duty Wednesday.

Police have recommended that two of the three men in the video be charged with drug trafficking.

October 21, 2009 — Return to cover.