Family seeks judicial review of Crown decision not to charge Edmonton police officer who kicked teenager

Lawyer calls Crown decision to not charge officer ‘perverse and biased’ in favour of police

judicial review requested

Photo of Pacey Dumas after police incident.

The Alberta superior court is being asked for a judicial review of a decision not to prosecute an Edmonton police officer who kicked an Indigenous teenager in the head.

Lawyer Heather Steinke-Attia has filed a judicial review application with the Court of King’s Bench on behalf of Pacey Dumas. Dumas required surgery to his skull after Const. Ben Todd kicked him during a 2020 arrest.

Dumas, 20, had an altercation with police on Dec. 9, 2020, after a call from a third party claiming a male had a knife at another location.

According to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), which reviews officer-involved cases that caused injury or death, Edmonton police came to the home of Irene Dumas and ordered Pacey to crawl towards them on his belly.

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In April 2023, ASIRT called Todd’s actions a “shocking lack of judgment and disregard for the life of (Dumas).

“The public expects significantly better from a police officer,” said the ASIRT report.

However, ASIRT declined to proceed with charges because the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service “provided an opinion to ASIRT that recommended no charges against (Todd).”

Steinke-Attia told APTN News it’s unlikely a successful judicial review would have the Crown reconsider its decision.

Pacey Dumas holds a picture of his brother, Blair Dumas, who died in 2023 and was a witness to Pacey being kicked by police. Photo: Danielle Paradis/APTN.

“There’s not a single solitary case that has been successful to my knowledge,” said Steinke-Attia.

Steinke-Attia added they believe this case will be successful because they have retained an independent report on the use of force which “confirms the officer’s actions cannot be justified at law.”

APTN asked to see the report but Steinke-Attia declined saying that “it will be critical evidence in litigation and cannot be made public until after the litigation concludes.”

Steinke-Attia is hoping the review will create more transparency.

“The point of the judicial review is to compel them to explain themselves. Because right now the process lacks competence, integrity, transparency,” she said.

The Crown stepped in when Dumas took the rare step of launching a private prosecution against Todd and directed the trial be stayed.

The judicial review application states that while prosecutors have significant discretion in deciding which cases to try, “the exercise of prosecutorial discretion is not absolute.”

“Prosecutorial decisions must be made in accordance with fundamental principles of justice underlying a community’s sense of fair play and decency,” the request for judicial review said.

“An exercise of Crown discretion which is egregious, or ‘is so wrong that it violates the conscience of the community’ and thereby undermines the integrity of the administration of justice, can be an abuse of process warranting judicial intervention.”

Calling the actions of the Crown “perverse and biased in favour of a select group of people,” Steinke-Attia hopes there will be a further explanation that will help the public understand the decision.

This comes at a time when ASIRT has announced the Crown has declined to press charges in the killing of Steven Nguyen despite an investigation finding “reasonable grounds” to believe Const. Alex Doduk committed a culpable homicide.

“Policing is a dangerous job. It is even more dangerous when you know your community is fearful of you or mistrusts you,” said Steinke-Attia.

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