EDMONTON – An Edmonton police officer says he used reasonable force when he hit a handcuffed woman who had been arrested during a potential riot following a 2006 NHL playoff game.
Const. Shane Connor, 28, faces charges of discreditable conduct for striking Kristin Wilson on the night of June 17 and for swearing at her.
Connor told a police disciplinary hearing on Wednesday that officers feared for their safety as up to 30,000 people spilled out of bars or made their way to the city’s trendy Whyte Avenue bar strip after the Oilers won the sixth game of the Stanley Cup final.
He testified that Wilson, who was one of 400 people arrested that night, continually swore at him and other officers as she was escorted to a police bus.
Connor acknowledged he hit the 21-year-old woman, who he said was drunk and unruly, with what police call a “head-stun” when she broke away from his grasp.
“I used a head-stun technique and directed her to the ground. Unfortunately her hands were cuffed and she ended up hitting her face on the pavement,” he said.
“She didn’t resist further. I put a knee on her back area to ensure she was aware that I was in control of her.”
Connor, who is also a qualified emergency medical technician and was a Mountie before joining the Edmonton police, said he acted instinctively and according to his training.
He said he treated Wilson as what police call an active resister – a designation that allows an officer to use the head-stun or other measures including a baton or pepper spray to subdue a belligerent person.
He said on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most belligerent, Wilson was acting like a nine.
“The force that I used was appropriate, and if I had to do it again I would do exactly the same,” he said. “She didn’t give me any choice.”
Wilson, who now lives in British Columbia, was treated for a cut to her lip after her arrest. A paramedic testified that she refused transport to hospital. She told him she had not passed out or lost consciousness, which would have been a sign of more serious trauma.
Connor’s testimony contrasted sharply with what Wilson has told the hearing.
On Tuesday, she testified that she was polite and co-operative when she was taken into custody after arguing with police about the arrest of a friend.
She said she only snapped once when an officer swore as he ordered her onto a police bus, and that she’d had four beers that night but was not intoxicated.
A friend who was with her that night, Tucker Miller, testified on Tuesday that while Wilson swore a few times while trying to find out where their friend had been taken, she was not furious or yelling.
Wilson complained to police about her treatment a few days later when a local newspaper published photographs that showed her appearing to be hit by an officer.
Crown prosecutors reviewed the encounter and determined no criminal charges were warranted.
Wilson filed a lawsuit against the Edmonton police in October 2006, but her lawyers say they’re still waiting for a statement of defence before that can proceed, something that has likely been delayed by preparation for the hearing.
In the suit, she alleges she suffered a concussion, broken teeth, cuts, back pain, headaches, psychological trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and other injuries.
Two Edmonton police sergeants testified on Wednesday that Connor came forward to write a report on his use of the head-stun tactic a few hours after Wilson’s arrest.
Defence lawyer Alex Pringle said in the coming days he will call the RCMP officer who actually arrested Wilson and other witnesses to give evidence that will rebut much of Wilson’s testimony.