This article has a brief mention of suicide
The family of Pacey Dumas, a young man who sustained serious injuries at the hands of an Edmonton police officer say their lives have been changed forever.
“Constable Ben Todd wrecked our family,” said Irene Dumas about life since the incident. “We are having a very hard time. We are grieving.”
Pacey 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.
Edmonton police came to the home of Irene Dumas and ordered Pacey to crawl toward them on his belly.
Todd carried a carbine rifle and was backed by two additional officers, as well as a canine unit.
Neither Pacey nor his brother Blair had a criminal record.
The incident was investigated but the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service (ACPS) has not recommended charges.
Dumas and his mother Irene are members of Little Red River Cree Nation.
Pacey was 18 at the time of the incident.
The young man talked about how it has been hard to go to school or hold permanent work since the injury, which left a hole in his head for a year. He said that he has a lot of anxiety.
“If I see a police vehicle… or an officer walking by because of what they did to me of course I am not going to trust them,” said Pacey.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, or ASIRT asked the ACPS to consider laying excessive force charges against the officer.
“The public expects significantly better from a police officer,” ASIRT said in its report Thursday.
ACPS did not respond to emails from APTN News asking about the decision to not proceed with charges.
They have not released information about an external use of force expert that they consulted before deciding not to move forward with charges.
Rick Mirasty, a Cree defense lawyer in Edmonton, told APTN that he didn’t agree with the decision to not lay charges.
Mirasty has been outspoken about Indigenous justice issues and stopped by to offer support to the family at the press conference.
“We have a 240 lb police officer with a carbine in his hand and there’s a young 90 lb Indigenous male and the only way that that they can subdue him is kicking him soccer style in the head.
“It does not make sense and there are independent witnesses and yet they won’t take him to trial,” said Mirasty.
Pacey’s older brother Blair was one of the witnesses to the incident. He passed away on March 23 in a death by suicide that the family said was caused by the guilt he felt about Pacey’s injury.
“He thought he failed because he was the older brother… the protector,” said Irene.
Pacey himself said he doesn’t have any memory of the incident.
In the ASIRT report a witness said that Todd moved toward Pacey, who was on the ground, and kicked him in the face “as if you’re kicking like a soccer ball.”
Heather Steinke-Attia, Pacey’s lawyer also spoke to media.
She said this is not the first time that the Crown has decided to not press charges against a police officer.
“ASIRT has on multiple occasions concluded that criminal charges should be advanced against a police officer in a certain set of circumstances and the Crown’s office has repeatedly come back and made a decision behind closed door and without explanation to not prosecute,” she said.
Todd, Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee and six unidentified officers are named as defendants in a statement of claim which was filed in 2021 by the family. The lawsuit seeks a total of $690,000.
McFee spoke to reporters about the news that ASIRT was not proceeding with changes and whether further action would be taken against Todd who is currently on leave.
“Appropriate use of force depends on the circumstance… that is what I need to look at now,” said McFee.
McFee said there will be an internal investigation before there are any further decisions made.
Watch this story by Chris Stewart: