Calgary Police and Assault: Making Sense of Calgary's Crime News: Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, we examined two incidents involving the Calgary Police in which video shot by witnesses has led to accusations of police brutality/abuse of power and even calls for criminal assault charges against the officers involved. The police have made an initial assertion in both instances that the use of force was justified, though both incidents are being investigated to determine if the actions taken by the Calgary Police officers were indeed warranted.

While it would be imprudent and inappropriate for me (or any other lawyer or legal professional not directly involved in these cases) to comment on any expected outcomes, it is important that Calgary citizens understand their rights and responsibilities and the rights and responsibilities of the Calgary Police. The best way to protect yourself is to understand and comply with the law and to contact an experienced Calgary lawyer if you feel your rights have been violated.

Calgary Police Are Allowed to Use Force When Appropriate

As described in other articles on this blog, any unwanted physical contact can constitute an assault charge here in Calgary. But as broad as the definition of a common or simple assault may be, there are instances where it doesn't necessarily apply to all individuals and, generally speaking, Calgary Police who are lawfully carrying out their duties are among those individuals.

The simple fact is, the job that Calgary Police do may at times involve physical contact and the use of force. Police officers are not allowed to use any amount of force they want, any time they choose, but they are allowed to physically restrain and subdue suspects, and this can include acts that would otherwise be deemed assaults. Some force can be used to keep a suspect from leaving the scene of an alleged crime—if a law enforcement officer has reason to be believe you may be involved in a crime, they have the right to detain you—but in general use of physical force is supposed to be limited to situations where someone is believed to present a physical threat to law enforcement officers or others.

Even then, members of the Calgary Police Service are supposed to use as little force as possible to ensure everyone's safety.

The difficulty is in determining exactly how much force is appropriate. The police contend that they are forced to make split-second decisions in potentially dangerous circumstances, and in general they can be held immune from criminal assault charges except in the most egregious circumstances. If it is deemed that too much force was used due to an error in judgment while otherwise lawfully carrying out their duties, a Calgary police officer is much more likely to face reprimands and professional penalties than criminal charges.

You ALWAYS Have the Right to Talk to a Calgary Defence Lawyer

The Calgary Police have certain rights in carrying out their duties, and you have certain responsibilities to comply with their lawful requests. You also have rights of your own, though, including the right to talk to a Calgary defence lawyer as soon as possible after your are arrested or charged with a crime. For a free initial consultation with an experienced criminal defence lawyer, please contact my office today.