New & Notable: Officer's Unlawful use of Force doesn't mean you can Punch Him

In response to a disturbance on the Edmonton transit system, police officers searched for a male suspect of a generic description.  Carlan Met was nearby, and was the only male observed to be a loose match.  An officer requested to speak to him, but Mr. Met kept walking.  The officer tried again, to no avail.  Finally the officer grabbed Met’s arm in an attempt to stop him.

Met then threw what was described as a strong “haymaker” punch at the officer, which connected on the shoulder. Met was arrested for assaulting a police officer.

At trial he was convicted of simple assault, but acquitted of assault police.  The trial judge found that the officer was not acting in the lawful execution of his duty when he grabbed Met’s arm, so the latter was convicted only of the lesser assault.

On appeal, Met argued that he was acting in self-defence when punching the officer, and that the officer was not acting in the lawful execution of his duty in arresting Met, even after being punched: 2014 ABCA 157.

On the first point, the Alberta Court of Appeal deferred to the trial judge’s finding that the force of the punch was unreasonable, regardless of whether the officer’s unlawful initial contact was described more strongly as a “grab” or—in the more innocuous description of the trial judge—as a “placing of the hand”.

On the second point, the Alberta Court of Appeal held that, even though there was no initial arrest or detention that would justify the arm grab, and therefore no offence of “assault police” for which Met could be arrested, the punch still clearly gave the officer grounds for an arrest.  A conviction for an included offence (or no conviction at all) does not derogate from the lawfulness of the arrest: R v Biron, [1976] 2 SCR 56.

The appeal was dismissed.