Blue Line

No jail time for Calgary police officer who slammed handcuffed woman to floor

July 25, 2023  By The Canadian Press

July 25, 2023, Calgary, Alta. – A Calgary police officer who slammed a handcuffed woman to the ground face first will not be serving jail time.

Const. Alex Dunn, 37, was found guilty in 2020 of assault causing bodily harm.

Dunn had taken Dalia Kafi to police headquarters in 2017 for allegedly breaking a curfew. A security camera showed him throwing the woman down, her hands handcuffed behind her back, with blood pooling on the ground where her face hit the floor.

Kafi died of a suspected overdose in June 2021, days before Dunn received a 30-day conditional sentence that included house arrest.

Kafi was Black and the officer white. A Crown prosecutor said there was no suggestion the assault was racially motivated, but urged the trial judge not to ignore race in sentencing.

The Crown appealed the sentence, asking that Dunn serve nine months in jail.

Court of King’s Bench Justice Nancy Dilts ruled that the officer deserved 30 days behind bars and that it could be served intermittently, followed by six months probation with community service.

After arguments Tuesday, she stayed that penalty.

“I have reflected on the fact that Mr. Dunn did not serve the sentence he should have for his unlawful conduct. The original sentence from trial failed to achieve the objectives of denunciation and deterrence,” the judge said.

“But Mr. Dunn served the sentence that he was imposed from the trial judge and, since December 2017, Mr. Dunn has lived by society’s values, not reoffending, and from that we can conclude that Mr. Dunn presents no risk to the public.”

Dilts said requiring Dunn to serve all or a portion of the new sentence would be a “symbolic statement” that unlawful conduct from a peace officer in a position of trust will not be tolerated.

“I, in no way, minimize the circumstances of the offence and the violation by Mr. Dunn of our community’s trust,” she said.

“Considering the administration of justice as a whole, I’m satisfied that the losses generally outweigh the gains of requiring Mr. Dunn to serve the substituted sentence.”

Dunn’s lawyer, Alain Hepner, told court that his client has been fighting forest fires while the Calgary Police Service attempts to terminate his employment as an officer.

“Two years have passed since the initial sentence was imposed. It’s 5½ years since the event has elapsed,” Hepner said.

“He was unable to continue his career in law enforcement. He’s been the victim of widespread dissemination of the video across Canada and the U.S. That video has been seen millions of times.”

Crown prosecutor Michael Dunn, who is not related to the officer, said, generally, cases where a person in authority commits a serious crime results in a lengthy period of incarceration.

“To impose a stay on the sentence … would deprive the sentence of its deterrence impact,” he said.

“Denunciation and deterrence require that when an individual is in positions of trust, that they actually receive the punishment for that.”

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