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George Bird

No formal gripe filed: Need complaint to probe alleged police beating

Prince Albert Police

No formal complaint has been laid against two Prince Albert City Police officers accused of assaulting a man last week, says acting Chief Dale McFee.

George Bird, 30, complained he was assaulted by City Police officers when he was arrested last Tuesday night. The first nations man claimed he was punched, kicked, stepped on and had his shoulder dislocated by one or two police officers who arrested him following a disturbance complaint on Tuesday. He also complained of nerve damage to a hand from being handcuffed too tightly.

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations sent a special investigator to look into the incident.

McFee said Monday he spoke to the investigator, who is expected to contact the department again shortly. But McFee said nothing can be done by way of a police investigation at this time since there is no formal complaint.

"We will talk again (to the special investigator) and deal with it if something else does come," said McFee. "If and when a formal complaint is filed, we will follow procedure and look into it."

Bird is currently serving a six-month jail term after pleading guilty in Prince Albert provincial court last week to an old assault charge. Police arrested him on that charge since there was a warrant out for him, Bird told the Herald on the weekend.

Bird said he did not resist arrest and did nothing else to bring on the alleged assault by the officers.

"I didn't want to get roughed up," he said. "I didn't want them grabbing me and throwing me on the ground, so I got on the ground myself."

McFee said he could not comment on facts of the matter because of a potential investigation.

But when Bird appeared in court last week, facts presented in court stated he was involved in an altercation prior to police arriving on the scene.

McFee said formal complaints against police are not very common. In 2001, 20 complaints were laid while the number climbed to 21 in 2002.

One complaint was found to be substantiated each of those years.

Complaints can be laid in areas such as neglect of duty, abuse of authority, officer conduct and other areas.

When a complaint is laid formally, it is investigated either internally by the local police force or outside by the Saskatchewan Police Complaints Commission.

In any case, a formal complaint must first be laid.

If the complaint is found to be substantiated, measures can be taken against the officer involved through the Police Act or through the criminal justice system, depending on the details of the matter.

McFee said it is not common to get formal complaints about alleged assaults by police officers. He said when it does, it most often happens as the result of an arrest "which (complainants) make out to be what they feel is an assault."