Feb 23 2011
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - A southern Alberta police officer was in hospital in stable condition with serious head injuries Wednesday from a severe beating he received during an attempt to arrest two men.
Const. Norman Smith, 31, had bleeding on the brain, a broken nose and cheekbone and several cuts. He was initially taken to hospital in Lethbridge, but was transferred to Calgary for further treatment.
Insp. Colin Catonio said it's unusual for an officer to be so badly hurt during an arrest.
"There's the odd kick or the odd punch and that sort of thing ... it's a fairly rare occurrence," he said. "This was an outright attack. It's unfair. It's scary and it's really painful for us."
Catonio said the injured officer stopped two males walking down a street at 2 a.m. and was trying to arrest one of them.
"He was in the process of doing that when the second person ran off and came back and engaged the constable in a fight," he said.
"The two of them obviously got the better of our constable and by the time our second officer got there, and some passersby stopped and provided some assistance, this member obviously took a severe beating."
Raymond Joshua Asham, 20, and Aaron Head, 24, both of Calgary, are charged with aggravated assault of a peace officer.
Asham is also charged with escaping lawful custody for allegedly fleeing the scene after being placed under arrest, while Head is charged with being an accessory to that.
Both men have been remanded in custody and are scheduled to appear in court Feb. 25, 2011.
Smith, a married father of three small children, has been with the Lethbridge police force for about 18 months. He spent three years in Edmonton before that.
Catonio said at last word his colleague appeared to be doing better.
"Right now he is conscious and communicative and we're optimistic that he'll do all right."
Const. Tom Kramer, president of the Lethbridge Police Association, said it's not uncommon for officers to have to grapple with unruly suspects when making arrests, but most scuffles amount to resisting arrest rather than vicious assaults like the one Wednesday.
"I haven't seen any in my 22 years that were of this nature," he said.
"Unfortunately, it's a high-risk occupation we're in."
Police are still trying to determine whether the injured officer was responding to an unanswered call for service in the area. Police have not released the original reason the officer was trying to arrest the men.
(The Canadian Press, Medicine Hat News)