An Edmonton police officer suspended without pay following a violent arrest in which he drove his knee into a prone man’s back has pleaded not guilty to assault.
The Edmonton Police Service announced Const. Michael Partington had been charged with assault and removed from duty in June, shortly after bystander video of the August 2019 arrest circulated online.
The video shows an Indigenous man, Elliot McLeod, lying still and facedown on the sidewalk. A police officer appears to hold McLeod’s arms behind his back.
Then, a second officer — Partington — walks up and suddenly drops, driving his knee into McLeod’s upper back. McLeod screams in pain and begs the officers to stop.
“Do not run from the police,” one officer shouts at him. “Did you think I wouldn’t catch you?”
The video was shared with police after the arrest. The EPS Professional Standards Branch referred the investigation to Crown prosecutors after its initial investigation “concluded that the level of force described in the police report was not consistent with the force observed in the video,” EPS said in a statement.
Partington pleaded not guilty to assault on Aug. 28. A five-day trial is scheduled for next March in Edmonton provincial court.
WATCH | Video shows violent arrest of Elliot McLeod
In July, the Edmonton Police Commission, a civilian oversight body, upheld the decision to suspend Partington without pay.
Police union president Sgt. Michael Elliott told members in a subsequent email that the union is using “every proper legal mechanism to address what we feel is an incorrect and unjust suspension.” The union is providing Partington with criminal and labour legal counsel.
Arrestee’s charges stayed
In a previous interview with CBC News, McLeod said the officers took him down a side street and assaulted him twice while he was handcuffed, at one point with a bag over his head.
“After he arrested me, throwing me into his cop car, he dragged me out of that cop [vehicle] twice while I was in cuffs and assaulted me,” McLeod said over the phone from the Edmonton Remand Centre. “This is what I am trying to get justice for.”
The four charges against McLeod stemming from the August 2019 arrest, including assaulting and resisting a peace officer, were stayed in January. He is currently out on bail awaiting trial after being charged with second-degree murder in an unrelated case earlier this year.