A former Estevan police officer has been found guilty of assaulting a man in handcuffs.
Court documents say the incident happened in May last year at a Boston Pizza in Estevan. At the time, Mohammed Khan was a probationary constable with the Estevan police service.
That night, a worker at the Boston Pizza said she saw a group of men near the dumpsters beside the building and called police because she suspected drug activity.
An officer soon arrived, Mohammed Khan, and went with the worker to the group beside the building. The worker told court she heard Khan shout at the group “freeze police”, then when the people in the group ran she said Khan shouted “stop or I’ll shoot”, though she said she didn’t see any weapon drawn.
The victim was Donovan Gibson. He told court that he and a friend had arrived at the restaurant after having a lot to drink, and they continued drinking there.
Gibson said he had gone outside for a smoke and while outside had seen Khan’s flashlight and heard him say “everyone stay still”, at which point everyone in the group ran.
Gibson admitted to the court that he was very drunk at the time and his ability to remember things was affected. However, Gibson said the officer “took him down” then Khan had his knees on Gibson’s back while he lay on the ground.
Gibson remembered being handcuffed, then the officer pushing his head into the ground three times and saying quit resisting – though Gibson said the cuffs were already on and he wasn’t resisting. Gibson said he got several scrapes on his face from being pushed into the ground.
The sergeant who was the shift supervisor at the time also testified in court. He said he arrived at the Boston Pizza shortly after Khan did.
The sergeant said when he arrived Khan was on Gibson’s back and was cuffing him, after asking a couple times for Gibson’s hands.
After Gibson was cuffed, the sergeant testified he heard Khan say something to the effect of “there you go. That’s what you get for running from the police”, and then pushing Khan’s face into the pavement.
The sergeant said he told Khan he would take over from there but Khan resisted, and pushed Gibson’s face into the ground twice more at the sergeant tried to intervene.
Another officer testified and corroborated the sergeant’s evidence. Both the officer and sergeant noticed cuts and abrasions on Gibson’s face when he got up from the ground.
In his defense, Khan denied pushing Gibson’s face into the ground. Khan agreed that he said “this is what you get when you run from police”, but Khan said he meant that things get difficult.
Khan’s probation has since been terminated from the Estevan Police Service, and he said he has moved back to Ontario and is helping his parents.
In his decision, the judge said Khan’s entire approach in the situation showed inexperience and naivete which led to frustration which Khan took out on Gibson.
Going through the events from that night, the judge pointed out several problems – including when Khan shouted “stop or I’ll shoot” which the judge said what reminiscent of a Hollywood movie.
Looking over all the evidence presented, the judge wrote it was an inescapable conclusion that this was “a gratuitous or retributive violence on the part of Constable Khan”. He therefore found Khan guilty of assault.