A Calgary police officer who slammed a handcuffed black woman face first on the floor should spend nine months in prison, the prosecutor argued Thursday while Const. Alex Dunn’s attorney asked his client to spend time in the community instead.
Const. Alex Dunn, 34, was convicted of assault following the violent arrest of Dalia Kafi on December 12, 2017.
During Thursday’s trial, Cory Wilson, Dunn’s attorney, said his client was guilty of “being frustrated with Ms. Kafi and knocking her to the ground in a judo throw”.
“This approximately two-second incident changed the lives of Ms. Kafi and Mr. Dunn forever,” Wilson told Provincial Court Judge Michelle Christopher.
“A mistake doesn’t define a man.”
Wilson suggested serving a sentence in the community – a combination of house arrest, curfew, and probation – or, if the judge deems prison appropriate, serve 30 to 45 days on the weekend.
A date for Christopher to make her decision will be set next week.
Outside, Kafi spoke to reporters after the hearing.
“I felt useless, like I was nothing because he knocked me down,” said Kafi. “I didn’t feel like a human, you would never do this to a dog or a cat. Why would you do this to a human?”
Kafi, who is black and was 26 years old at the time, was arrested by Dunn during a traffic obstruction for violating a court-ordered curfew and taken to the Arrest Processing Unit (APU).
There, Kafi was instructed by Dunn to stand against a wall to be photographed.
Dunn then reached for her head twice to remove Kafi’s hair scarf.
The video from the APU shows Kafi pulling away from Dunn while trying to remove the scarf.
In what Wilson described as “temporary loss of judgment,” Dunn tossed Kafi onto the concrete floor with her hands still cuffed behind her back.
You can see the Kafi head bouncing off the floor and quickly forming a pool of blood.
Dalia Kafi says she was hoping to hear an apology from the police officer who attacked her. (Meghan Grant / CBC)
Prosecutor Ryan Pollard said Kafi needed surgery for a broken nose and sutures.
In his judgments, Pollard said that although there was no evidence that the attack was racially motivated, the judge should look at it in the larger context in order to harm the community.
“I claim it would be a mistake for the court not to consider the fact that the victim is black and the perpetrator is white.”
Dunn is currently suspended from the Calgary Police Service without pay.
After the criminal case, internal CPS disciplinary proceedings will be initiated and Wilson said the police chief is trying to end Dunn’s employment.
“He always wanted to be a cop,” said Wilson. “He knows his career is over.”
Const. Alex Dunn’s attorney suggested a community jail sentence or a 30-45 day weekend sentence. Prosecutors have proposed 9 months in prison. (Colin Hall / CBC)
Wilson noticed the incredible worldwide distribution of the take-down video released on the first day of the trial.
The video was viewed more than 13 million times in one tweet alone, and was retweeted by celebrities like Morgan Freeman and LeBron James, according to Wilson.
“This is a person whose life was destroyed by a very unfortunate incident,” said Wilson.
“”[Dunn] has forever lost its reputation in the church. This is something that will be on the internet forever. “
Kafi says she wants to talk about the attack but cannot afford therapy. She also says she has been haunted by the attack and has trust issues, particularly with the police.
“How could this happen at a police station from someone I thought was there to protect me?”
This story is part of a CBC project called Being Black in Canada that highlights the stories and experiences of Black Canadians, from anti-black racism to success stories that Black communities can be proud of. You can read more stories here.