Video that depicts Calgary, Alberta, police tackling a 21-year-old for allegedly violating a public health order went viral on Saturday, prompting some to accuse the officers of “going overboard” in their enforcement of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Police placed the young man under arrest after being called to assist at an outdoor rink where more than 40 people had gathered in violation of Alberta’s health mandate, according to the CBC.
“Why are you guys grabbing me?” the young man asked multiple times.
“Get on the ground! Get on the [expletive] ground right now! Get on the ground before I [expletive] Taser you!” an officer later yelled when things became more heated.
Rayan Sanoubar, 12, recorded the tense incident, Global News reported.
“A peace officer came, he sat in his car for a bit, then he got out … told the skateboarders that we have to go and that we’re not allowed [to be] there and then just we all refused and he called for backup for other police to come,” Sanoubar explained. “They had him on the ground for at least, like, six minutes, just frozen, cutting his skates off with a knife. They arrested him and threatened us saying: ‘We are going to give you tickets if you don’t walk away.'”
“I think it was overboard, too much, it was extreme,” said Sanoubar’s mother, Roula Aboukhodoud.
Part 2 pic.twitter.com/yIwLubv4DM
— AlbertaPlumber (@lolpipewrench) December 19, 2020
Calgary Police Supt. Ryan Ayliffe said during a Friday press conference that the police were asked to assist by law officers because the skaters were not maintaining adequate social distance.
“The place we want to be as the police service is just one where we can have those conversations, work through these things, and show that we will not tolerate people that don’t want to willfully comply,” Ayliffe said. “But we also want to make sure there’s compassion when we deal with people who are trying very hard to get through a very difficult time.”
“We have received many questions and concerns about an arrest that occurred earlier this week,” the Calgary Police tweeted Saturday. “Please see the below statement for additional information on the incident.”
In their statement, the Calgary Police explained their side of the story:
Video is circulating online of a 21-year-old man who was arrested for obstruction of an officer and resisting arrest after allegedly trying to avoid a ticket by refusing to identify himself and not remaining with officers when instructed to do so.
By law, a person is required to identify themselves if they are being issued a ticket, otherwise they can be charged under the Criminal Code for obstructing an officer. This ensures people cannot avoid law enforcement by simply walking away from police without identifying themselves.
People have every right to contest tickets, charges and laws they think are unjust, but that right needs to be exercised in court and not by refusing to obey lawful instructions from officers. It is also an offence to physically resist and pull away from officers to try to stop or slow an arrest.
This video only shows a portion of what was a long interaction. Despite signage outlining the rules at the site, Bylaw Services was called when over 40 people were using the area. They explained the restrictions but could not get the users to comply. Due to their non-compliance and the size of the group, we were called to assist.
Our officers then also asked users multiple times to voluntarily disperse and explained the health orders that require it. The arrested man was also asked multiple times to comply with the restrictions and was given multiple opportunities to only receive a ticket after refusing, but would not provide his name or identification. When told he was under arrest for obstruction, he had multiple chances to comply with the officers before the video recordings started.
No one in our Service enjoys asking Calgarians to stop doing normal activities and we completely understand the frustrations these restrictions cause as our families are grappling with them too. However, our job is to enforce the laws that our elected governments put in place and our members do their best to gain voluntary compliance.
The fact this situation resulted in an arrest was due to the individual trying to avoid law enforcement by obstructing and resisting officers.
We have received many questions and concerns about an arrest that occurred earlier this week. Please see the below statement for additional information on the incident.#yyc #covid19 pic.twitter.com/ucciovxuxX
— Calgary Police (@CalgaryPolice) December 19, 2020
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