DIDSBURY – A road-side incident between a Sundre-area man and Alberta Sheriffs on July 31 that saw the man receive facial and other injuries is being reviewed by Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, says Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper.
Jeremia Leussink, 18, was operating a farm tractor near the intersection of Highway 2A and Twp. Rd. 312A near Didsbury when he drove around a checkstop being conducted by Alberta Sheriffs, according to Leussink's brother Clinton.
A number of officers then approached his vehicle and a confrontation occurred, he said.
Several videos taken by bystanders show officers pulling Jeremia from the tractor, pushing him to the ground and restraining him.
Jeremia has been charged with resisting arrest and refusing to take a breathalyzer.
In an interview, MLA Cooper says he began looking into case as soon as he was made aware of the incident.
“I’m under the understanding that the office of the Solicitor General has asked for a review of the situation, including all of the details around the checkstop and the conduct of officers,” said Cooper. “I think this is a step in the right direction.”
Cooper has been in contact with several parties involved, he said.
“I’ve had a good chance to speak with the Leussink family and have also been in contact with the minister of Justice and he assures me that they are reviewing the situation and will provide more information in the coming weeks and months,” he said.
The road intersection where the incident occurred is in Cooper’s riding.
Asked what his thoughts are after viewing some of the videos, he said, “I don’t know all of the complicating factors but certainly the video does seem to be quite aggressive on behalf of the sheriffs when it comes to dealing with an 18-year-old farmer.
“It would seem that other options would have been available, but the only information that I have is on the tape (videos) which why I reached out to the minister’s office and expressed some concern.
“I'm looking forward to receiving more information about the situation.”
A call to Alberta Justice media relations seeking comment was not immediatley returned.
Jeremia is scheduled to be in Didsbury provincial court on Oct. 26.
Some time after Jeremia’s arrest, a second brother, Dominic Leussink, came to the scene and tried to remove the tractor. He was arrested and faces charges of obstruction, mischief and resisting arrest. He is also scheduled to be in court on Oct. 26.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page set up by the Leussink family to bring in money to cover lawyer fees and other costs has raised over $69,000 as of the morning of Aug. 21 morning. The original goal of the page was $15,000.
The Leussink case has received widespread media attention since the videos were made public.