'Worst use of force': Trial begins for officer who threw handcuffed woman to ground face-first

·4 min read

A disturbing video showing a Calgary police officer slamming a handcuffed woman into the ground face-first has been released by a judge at the constable's trial.

Const. Alex Dunn is on trial on a charge of assault causing bodily harm stemming from an arrest in 2017.

Dalia Kafi, who is Black and was 26 years old at the time, had been arrested on the accusation she breached a court-ordered curfew. She was at the CPS arrest processing unit when she was taken to the ground in what one 30-year officer says was the "worst use of force" he'd ever seen.

Kafi, whose head can be seen bouncing off the concrete floor, needed surgery for a broken nose and stitches in her lip.

On Monday, provincial court Judge Michelle Christopher agreed to release the video exhibit to members of the media, including CBC News.

WATCH: See Const. Dunn throw the handcuffed woman to the ground in the video below

Kafi was the first of three witnesses to be called by prosecutor Ryan Pollard.

Kafi told Pollard she'd been at a friend's house braiding hair on Dec. 12, 2017, when she realized she was out past her curfew.

Though it was not mentioned in court, Kafi was subject to a court-ordered curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

A friend offered to drive her home, but on the way, she says, the driver was pulled over for turning on a yellow light.

At first, Kafi says, she gave the officers her sister's name because she knew she'd be in trouble for being out late.

Once she told Dunn her real name, Kafi was arrested, placed in handcuffs and taken to the arrest processing unit.

There, Kafi was told to stand against a wall to have her photo taken. At that point, Dunn tried several times to remove a scarf she was wearing in her hair.

'Judo-style throw'

Kafi can be seen "shrinking away" from the officer, as Pollard described in his opening statement.

Staff Sgt. Gordon Macdonald, who was the commanding officer at the APU described Kafi as "flinching back."

Then, in a swift move, Dunn slams the handcuffed woman face-first onto the ground in what Macdonald described as a "judo-style throw."

Kafi's head can be seen bouncing off the concrete floor.

Kafi's mother, who had been sitting quietly in the gallery, watched the video of her daughter's head bouncing off the concrete floor and let out a guttural noise. She quickly left the courtroom.

'Worst use of force'

Macdonald testified he not only witnessed the incident but also heard the unmistakable sound of Kafi's head hitting the ground.

"There's only one type of sound when somebody's bone hits the floor and that's what I heard," he said from the witness box.

Macdonald testified that he feared the worst for Kafi's condition and called paramedics.

Dunn backed off. Normally, the arresting officer accompanies an arrestee to the hospital, but Macdonald felt it wasn't appropriate for the constable to continue to be in Kafi's presence.

"I advised him that it was the worst use of force that I had seen," said Macdonald.

Surgery and stitches

Macdonald said that when Kafi arrived, she was complaining about her arrest. He said she was belligerent though not threatening or aggressive.

Pollard asked the 30-year officer if he'd seen Kafi act in a way that would have justified Dunn's reaction.

"No," said Macdonald.

Immediately after the take-down, Kafi was motionless on the ground. As other officers approached, Dunn stepped away.

A pool of blood can be seen on the ground, becoming a trail when Kafi is moved.

Dunn back at work

Kafi says that when she came to, her face was bleeding and she was taken to hospital, where she was stitched up. Eventually, she had surgery for a broken nose.

According to CPS, Dunn was suspended with pay for a year after he was charged but has been brought back for an administrative role with the service.

In a written statement, CPS said its internal disciplinary process will be completed after the trial and will determine whether Dunn's use of force was considered reasonable.

Under the Police Act, depending on the outcome, discipline could include dismissal.

"In general terms, police officers are trained to de-escalate conflict and to use the least amount of force necessary to safely resolve a situation. We expect them to follow the law, our policies and our training."

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