The leader of the Edmonton Police Association wants an apology from the local Bear Clan after a video the group posted accused a police officer of brutality during an arrest he was not involved in.
The 12-second clip, posted to TikTok on Sept. 16 by the Bear Clan’s Judith Gale, showed the shove and then cut to an unrelated shot speculating who the arresting officer might be.
“TikTok does this look like the assailant?? It is his beat as he says,” the caption reads.
Staff Sgt. Michael Elliot of the EPA said the misidentified officer is facing threats from the public and calls to resign because of the video. He wants Gale to delete the spliced clip and apologize.
“When you put something out that is completely false and misleading, that’s crossing the line. It’s inappropriate and wrong and she needs to apologize for that,” Elliott told CTV News Edmonton, adding he’s spoken to the officer who was misidentified.
“He’s shaken about it…I’m not going to repeat any comments, but comments have been made to him in person and online.”
On Thursday, the acting chief of the Edmonton Police Service said the officer Gale identified was not even on duty at the time.
“Protecting our community is already a difficult enough job, without such attacks,” Deputy Chief Devin Laforce said at a police commission meeting.
Police have not identified either the officer or the woman arrested, because she was released without charges. CCTV footage made public by the police on Thursday showed the woman with a knife in her hand when the officer arrived.
“As a friendly reminder to everyone, video can be weaponized and harmful in manipulated ways,” Laforce said, adding that Gale’s video led many members of the public to “share his name, call for his resignation, and much, much worse.”
After Gale’s video was shared, the Bear Clan promoted a protest at EPS headquarters. The group’s Facebook called the arrest “police brutality” and claimed “there was no knife.” The posts remained online Friday, along with Gale’s spliced video.
A post by the Bear Clan after the EPS video was released Thursday stated: “No matter how you look at it, it is still police brutality.”
Gale did not respond to several interview requests from CTV News Edmonton on Friday.
‘WE WERE WRONG’
Elliott also said he had concerns with how other Edmontonians reacted to the video.
“It’s sad and disappointing that people quickly judge and jump to conclusions because, I don’t know if it’s human nature or what, but there’s some people out there who no matter what we do or say, it’ll never be enough,” he said.
Local lawyer Tom Engel accused EPS on Twitter of a “coverup.” He told CTV News Edmonton that he stood by that on Friday, and said the police should have immediately promised to release the image and video. After watching it, Engel believes there is still a case to be made that the officer used “excessive force.”
The Progress Report, which refers to itself as an independent journalism outlet, tweeted that EPS “very likely lie(d) to the public” when they stated there was a knife without immediately providing an image or video of it.
The Progress Report deleted that tweet on Friday and said: “We were wrong to infer that and that post does meet the high standards of accuracy we seek.” A representative of The Progress Report declined an interview with CTV News Edmonton.
“Our jobs are always criticized, regardless of what it is…This is an unfortunate part of being a police officer,” Laforce said, defending his organization for taking nearly a week to share the video.
“We have to touch base with affected officers, we’re dealing with that video that was spliced together, we’re not sure if the investigation is going to lead to charges down the road or is it actually concluded? So there’s lots of moving parts we have to assess, so it does take time.”
Laforce said the woman shoved in the video was released after her warrants were processed and she was given a meal.