The Winnipeg police service is defending the actions of its officers after a video surfaced showing police kneeing and kicking an Indigenous man during an arrest in the Exchange District.
On Thursday, at 7:45 a.m., police responded to a report of a man with a gun behind the Centennial Concert Hall.
Police say the man who appeared to be on methamphetamine was vandalizing the Concert Hall and broke into the building. He was confronted by security and left. He then brandished a handgun, scaring pedestrians and resulting in multiple calls to 911.
Bystanders pointed the man out to responding officers who confronted him. The suspect discarded the handgun but refused to comply with the officer’s commands to get on the ground.
He allegedly assaulted one of the officers but was forced to the ground. Officers struggled to place him in handcuffs. Police say a knife and a heavy bar was located on the man, who was taken into custody without injuries.
Police said a handgun was recovered at the scene. The weapon was later identified as an airsoft gun.
Flinn Nolan Dorian, 33, of Winnipeg, has been charged with three counts of possession of a weapon, two counts of mischief over $5,000, and one count each of assaulting a police officer, resisting a police officer, commercial break and enter and failing to comply with a probation order. He was detained in custody.
Police defend use of force
In a video of the arrest posted on YouTube by Winnipeg Police Cause Harm, three officers are seen trying to restrain the suspect on the ground. One officer begins kneeing the man in the side. A fourth officer, holding a rifle, walks up and kicks the man twice. The man is also tasered before being handcuffed.
WARNING: Video contains violent content
Police came under heavy criticism after video of the arrest began circulating on social media platforms.
At a press conference Friday, Const. Jay Murray said the video doesn’t show the context and police released extended footage from a security camera that also captured the arrest.
Police show security footage:
Murray said officers, despite most being larger than the man they were trying to take into custody, couldn’t do so until the two kicks were landed and a Taser was deployed. When the officer kicks the man, he is aiming for the man’s shoulder, said Murray, in an attempt to get the man to bring his hands out from underneath him to handcuff him.
He said the man self-disclosed significant meth use prior to Thursday’s incident.
Murray added the reason police released the video and held a press conference so quickly was due in part to not wanting to escalate tensions in the community.
Three Indigenous people were shot and killed by Winnipeg police over 10 days in April.
Murray says Chief Danny Smyth has reached out to Indigenous leaders to discuss the arrest.
Kevin Walby, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg, said the video shows problematic behavior, since the suspect was already on the ground when he was kneed, kicked and shocked with a Taser.
Walby said all three of those uses of force come after the person is already detained and restrained.