By Niara Savage
Photo: TaylorMadeYYC/ Twitter screenshot
Provincial court judge Michelle Christopher agreed on Monday, Oct. 26 to release the video footage showing Calgary Police Service officer Alex Dunn throwing a handcuffed Black woman face-first against the concrete. Constable Alex Dunn, 34, is on trial for assault causing bodily harm after violently handling an arrestee during a 2017 incident.
Dalia Kafi, a Black woman, was 26 at the time of her December 2017 arrest for violating a court-ordered curfew. Kafi said she was at her friend’s house braiding hair when she noticed it was past her curfew.
A friend was driving Kafi home when the vehicle was pulled over by Dunn for turning during a yellow light.
Upon revealing her identity, Kafi was arrested and transported to the processing unit. She initially gave the officer a fake name. Once she arrived, she was ordered to stand against a wall to have her picture taken. Dunn attempted to remove her headscarf multiple times before slamming Kafi to the ground in a “judo-style throw,” said Staff Sgt. Gordon Macdonald after the footage was played in the courtroom.
The footage shows Kafi’s head bouncing against the ground, and Macdonald testified that he heard the sound of her skull making contact with the floor.
“There’s only one type of sound when somebody’s bone hits the floor and that’s what I heard,” he said.
After the take-down, Kafi was motionless. Dunn backed away, and other officers came to her aid. When Kafi was moved, a pool of blood remained where she had been lying.
Macdonald called paramedics and advised Dunn not to ride with Kafi although the arresting officer typically travels with the arrestee to the hospital, he told prosecutor Ryan Pollard.
He said Kafi was not behaving in a threatening or aggressive way at the processing unit and that he did not see her act in a way that justified Dunn’s use of force. He called it the “worst use of force” he’d even seen in his 30-year career.
Kafi underwent surgery for a broken nose and required stitches.
Dunn was suspended for a year without pay, but is now back at work in an administrative role. A CPS internal review to be completed after Dunn’s trial will determine if his use of force was within reason.
He said he thought Kafi had slipped out of her handcuffs and that he did not mean to slam her on the ground face-first.
“Her hand had come up and wrapped around my hand,” he said on the second day of his trial. “I immediately said to her, and excuse my language, your honour, ‘what the f–k, you’re supposed to be in handcuffs.”
After throwing her down he realized she was still in handcuffs. “Don’t grab the police,” he told her.