By Jensen, Randy on August 29, 2020.
The Lethbridge Police Commission has resolved to uphold the decision of Chief Scott Woods to relieve a Lethbridge Police Service officer from duty without pay.
Under the Police Service Regulation, the commission was required to review the decision within 30 days, the commission noted in a news release Friday.
On Aug. 23, Const. David Easter was charged with one count of assault in relation to a matter involving an altercation with a prisoner earlier this year. He was subsequently relieved from duty without pay pending the outcome of the matter in court.
The charge stems from an incident in the LPS Short Term Holding Facility Feb. 9, involving the officer and a male prisoner inside a cell. The prisoner did not sustain any injuries as a result of the altercation.
Following an internal complaint a Section 46.1 notification under the Police Act was made to the Director of Law Enforcement. While the matter was deemed in-scope, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was not assigned and the LPS Professional Standards Unit was directed to conduct the investigation. The completed investigation was subsequently forwarded to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service for review and a charge of assault was recommended.
Easter was released on an undertaking and is scheduled to appear in Lethbridge provincial court Nov. 4.
As the matter is before the court, the Lethbridge Police Commission will not comment further.
Meanwhile, in a press release issued late Friday evening the Lethbridge Police Association expressed their disappointed in the commission’s endorsement of the chief’s decision.
“We are unsurprised but not because the decision was proper, or arrived at responsibly. Moreso because those tasked with making it – the Commission – are ill equipped and largely unqualified to provide oversight that includes an objective and informed decision making process,” said LPA President Jay McMillan in the release.
The release goes on to state that members of the Lethbridge Police Service understand the cultural and political climate around policing and welcome much needed reforms and updates.
“We only ask that some respect be paid to due process and that assumptions are put aside in this instance until an objective finding can be made.”