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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Disciplinary hearing ordered for Edmonton cop

February 19, 2009
By Ben Gelinas, Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON — A disciplinary hearing has been ordered for an Edmonton police officer after he allegedly forced his way into a man's apartment on gut instinct alone, shot his Taser at the male resident, then conducted a search of the apartment without a warrant or permission.

Const. Jason Mitzel and a rookie partner knocked on Virgil Holloway's door on Feb. 19, 2003 after a noise complaint. A woman appeared, but the officers told the Law Enforcement Review Board that she would only open the door a crack. She appeared intoxicated, would not say who lived there and gave them a false name.

Mitzel then tried to force open the door. The woman fought back, yelling and trying to hit him. He head-stunned her and she was handcuffed. She continued to yell and struggle, and the officers arrested her for assault and obstruction.

Her boyfriend, Holloway, said he came to the door when he heard her yelling.

Mitzel said Holloway was instantly aggressive. Holloway said that Mitzel grabbed him and threw him to the floor, then made a motion suggesting he was going to draw a weapon.

Holloway leapt up and tried to run back into the apartment. Mitzel wedged his foot in the door and stuck the Taser in, firing two darts. Holloway doesn't remember being hit, but said he heard a popping noise, felt delirious, sore and burnt in the chest. Mitzel said the darts hit the wall.

The officer told the board he does not remember if he warned Holloway before firing the Taser.

He then tackled Holloway and arrested him for obstruction.

Soon five more officers arrived and assisted Mitzel with a search of the apartment, without a warrant or permission, to figure out the resident's name.

Another constable, Tim Horon, drove Holloway to police headquarters. Horon strip searched Holloway, but did not take notes, claiming he was unaware he was required to submit a report. As such, police did not document any physical signs of injury. Holloway's brother, however, later took photos of red marks on Holloway's chest and behind his ear.

The board also ordered a disciplinary hearing for Horon for failing to take any notes during the investigation.

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