Edmonton Cop Left Indigenous Teen With a Hole in Skull from ‘Football’ Kick: Lawsuit

Pacey Dumas, a 19-year-old living in Edmonton, Alberta, is suing the local police force after he was allegedly kicked in the head by an officer.
Pacey Dumas, Indigenous boy in police brutality case
Pacey Dumas has had a huge gap in his skull ever since police showed up at his family home last December. Photos courtesy of the Dumas family and their lawyer Heather Steinke-Attia.

An Indigenous teenager in Edmonton, Alberta, has spent nearly a year without a chunk of his skull after a local police officer allegedly kicked him in the head “football-style.”

Pacey Dumas, 19, has to wear a helmet whenever he walks outside to protect the spot where his brain is only shielded by skin and hair. The Edmonton Journal broke the story and said the hole in Dumas’ skull is the same size as a tennis ball. 


Now, his family is suing Edmonton Police Service (EPS) and several individual officers, including Chief Dale McFee, Const. Ben Todd, and six unnamed officers. In a statement of claim, they allege Todd kicked Dumas, a member of Little Red River Cree Nation, without provocation, while other members of the force stood by and did nothing. 

The incident started on Dec. 9, 2020, at about 4:15 a.m., when Edmonton police responded to a call about a fight inside a home involving a suspected weapon, an EPS statement said at the time. The statement said an 18-year-old male exited the home, “at which time a confrontation ensued. Physical force was applied to gain control of the male.” The male was then sent to hospital by paramedics. 

But that’s not how Dumas’ family remembers the event, and they’re suing officers partly for the way the incident was framed by police.

According to the family’s lawyer, Heather Steinke-Attia, Dumas’ mother cooperated and let the officers, who didn’t have a warrant, into her West Edmonton home, and no weapon was found. The statement of claim filed by the Dumas family and their lawyer claims police were responding to an incident that took place earlier in the evening at a location separate from the family home.

The statement says that police then asked Dumas and his older brother, Blair, to go outside, where they handcuffed Blair and ordered Dumas to lie face-down on the ground with his hands visible. Todd then allegedly started to yell and swear at Dumas, before kicking him in the head, rendering him unconscious and bloody, according to the family’s statement of claim. 


“He was agitated, vibrating, and screaming as Pacey was lying on the ground doing nothing, surrounded by officers,” Steinke-Attia told VICE World News. “The officer then moved in and kicked him football-style in the head… You shouldn’t be wearing a uniform and a badge.” 

Dumas’ brother and at least one neighbour witnessed the event, said Steinke-Attia, who used to work for EPS as a lawyer. “I used to work for the police, so I have an understanding of the use of force training; kicking someone in the head is not part of that training,” she said. 

The lawsuit claims that following the kick, two unidentified officers dragged Dumas to an area about two houses away for “unknown reasons” and didn’t offer him any medical attention. His mother, who was inside, stepped out as soon as she heard ambulance sirens. She saw blood on the ground, but not Pacey, the claim says, and officers allegedly refused to give her any information about what had happened to her son or where he was going. Police also allegedly told Dumas’ brother to “shut the fuck up” when he asked for fresh air while sitting in the backseat of a cop car, struggling with anxiety, the statement says.

Dumas was ultimately sent to the University of Alberta hospital where doctors decided to cut out a chunk of his skull to alleviate pressure from his swelling brain, a life-threatening injury. He spent nine days in hospital and was diagnosed with COVID-19 shortly after returning home. Steinke-Attia said the family suspects he caught it while in hospital.


Dumas told the Edmonton Journal he has no recollection of that night, but his mother and brother recounted the events after he regained consciousness in hospital. Today, he’s suffering from depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness. His year has been marked by an infection in his incision, severe headaches, as well as temporary neurological impairments, including slurred speech.

“It’s hard for me to try and get some sleep when I’m constantly thinking about that night, what happened, and why they did what they did to me,” he told the Journal

Steinke-Attia said no knife was ever found in the home, on Dumas, or on his brother, and no charges were laid against the two of them. The lawyer is still waiting for police to release more information about the allegations that brought the police to the Dumas home in the first place.

Alberta’s police watchdog, ASIRT, has been investigating the incident since last year, but the agency is severely underfunded and backlogged. According to an ASIRT statement from December 2020, “following the man’s arrest, a folding knife was recovered from the incident scene.” 

Steinke-Attia maintains a knife wasn’t found until investigators did a second sweep of the area and found a knife under a car at a separate and unrelated property.  “It had nothing to do with my client’s home. I asked the police to provide me with an investigation report, but I haven’t received it,” she said.


When asked about details surrounding the knife, EPS told VICE World News it cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. Spokesperson Carolin Maran confirmed to VICE World News that Todd “remains in an operational position but is not currently in front-line patrol.”

The family is currently seeking compensation from EPS and from the officers themselves. Dumas wants $400,000 in general and punitive damages as well as for lost income and future care costs. He is also seeking $20,000—personally paid by each defendant—for “the false or misleading statements and/or omissions” about the incident—a “rare” move, according to his lawyer, who said police should be held personally accountable for their actions.  Dumas’ mother and brother are also seeking $75,000 in damages for “intentional or negligent infliction of nervous shock and mental suffering.”

Dumas and his family “want compensation for the pain and suffering that he will continue to go through. He still has another surgery that we hope goes well, but will take him out of commission. He is unable to work, so there's a loss of income, and we don't know if there will be any losses in the future,” Steinke-Attia said.

After George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer in May 2020, people have been paying acute attention to systemic racism among police forces around the world. Steinke-Attia said cases like Dumas’ confirm those concerns.


“It exemplifies the problem that has existed for many Indigenous people and other races who feel like they are mistreated by police,” Steinke-Attia said. “It’s also a rather underprivileged community that police came to, so perhaps there was an expectation that no one would come forward about what had occurred.”

Steinke-Attia said the named defendants haven’t been served yet, but that will happen in the coming days. As a result, there’s no statement of defence at this time and allegations haven’t been proven in court yet. 

In the meantime, the teen is still waiting for a second surgery to cover the hole in his skull with a titanium plate—a surgery likely delayed because of the impact COVID-19 outbreaks have had on hospital capacity in Alberta. 

“He is a kid who should be enjoying his life like most other teens, but instead he has to live with this with everything he does: He has to wear a helmet when he goes out. In the winter he will have to wear a helmet everywhere, which isn’t cool for a teenage boy. He can’t engage in hockey or other sports, he can’t work,” Steinke-Attia said.

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