EDMONTON – An Edmonton Police officer was given 18 months probation for assaulting a disabled homeless man and then dropping him off and leaving him in the river valley in the winter.
Provincial Court Judge T.D. DePoe handed down his sentence on Nov. 2, 2020, against Edmonton Police Const. Matthew O’Mara in the December 2017 arrest of Craig Jephtas-Crail.
On Nov. 18, 2019, Judge DePoe found O’Mara guilty of common assault that occurred while O’Mara was on duty with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS).
Jephtas-Crail provided the court with a victim impact statement.
“This experience has negatively impacted my self-worth as I was disregarded and left by another human being, as though I meant nothing,” he told the court. “As a person with a disability and already facing barriers, it left me feeling as though I was worth next to nothing.”
The court heard that when Const. O’Mara was arresting Jephtas-Crail on the sidewalk on Jasper Avenue on charges of trespassing and being intoxicated in a public place, the accused “delivered two hard punches to the head of the complainant as he lay prone on the ground.”
When the homeless man was punched a second time he was in handcuffs.
“In these circumstances Mr. Jephtas-Crail was defenceless against Constable O’Mara’s assault on him,” said Judge DePoe. “The assault was observed by three independent eyewitnesses, who were located in the front window of an establishment called the Bar Bricco. The incident occurred on the sidewalk right in front of the bar.”
After the assault, O’Mara failed to follow EPS protocol surrounding the use of force and transportation of detainees.
“Instead, the accused and his partner drove the complainant into the North Saskatchewan River Valley and left him there,” said Judge DePoe.
The judge, in his decision, said the accused “…has expressed very little in the way of remorse.”
During the trial the court heard that O’Mara and his partner threw a bag of the homeless man’s belongings out of the car after him when they dropped him off at the river valley. The police vehicle’s internal GPS system was also switched off at the time.
-Alberta Press staff