Edmonton member of the legislature Steve Young was dropped from cabinet before he was even sworn in Friday due to concerns over a decade-old Tasering incident from his police days.
“He’s got a couple of personal issues that he brought to our attention and we decided this probably wasn’t the right time for him to go into cabinet,” Premier Alison Redford told reporters after the newest members of her 29-person cabinet were sworn in during a ceremony at Government House.
Redford’s spokesman, Stefan Baranski, later said the fact that Young was to be new associate minister for public safety was also a factor.
“Over the course of the week it was decided that given the nature of the new role around public safety and policing, that those allegations and those previous issues might be a distraction, so I think the decision was made very clearly that Mr. Young would step aside from those duties,” said Baranski.
Young, member for Edmonton-Riverview, could not be immediately reached for comment, but issued a short statement.
“There are no personal issues at play,” he wrote. “My wife and children are wonderful and incredibly supportive.
“However, this past week previous allegations against me from my career as a member of the Edmonton Police Service were again raised.”
He did not say who raised the issues or why.
Young had been the chief whip for Redford’s caucus until she announced last week he would move up to the new post.
According to a police internal review report from 2007, problems began after then-Const. Steve Young was one of five officers dispatched to reports of a man grabbing a 16-year-old girl from behind on the street in the early morning hours of Sept. 7, 2004.
The officers arrived and arrested a suspect at his car.
The man was drunk and fought hard against the officers, kicking and punching, the report says. When they couldn’t subdue him, Young pulled out his Taser and used it, a decision later deemed to have been justified.
The same day, Young filled out a report saying he had used the Taser.
Two weeks later, the suspect formally accused the officers of assaulting him. That precipitated an internal investigation that eventually concluded there was no merit to the accusation.
But in the course of that investigation, Young denied being the one who shocked the suspect.
The evidence pointed to Young: he was the only one among the five who was cleared to use the Taser and the only one who had one on him during the arrest. A fellow officer even said he witnessed Young using the weapon.
But Young still insisted to the investigators that it wasn’t him.
His e-mails to the investigators contained headlines like “Deny, deny, deny..” and “The Truth Shall Set You Free...”
“I did not Taser Mr. S (the suspect),” he wrote emphatically in one e-mail.
When he was eventually shown the report he filled out just hours after the Tasering, he was aghast, saying he didn’t remember it at all. He suggested he was being set up as a fall guy.
“How come I never saw this before?” he asked investigators. “That’s brutal. That’s absolutely brutal.”
After seeing the report, Young admitted he must have been the one who used the Taser.
“I’m extremely embarrassed, well, first of all that my memory wasn’t perfect, and that I actually thought it was somebody else,” he said at the time.
Young was charged with misconduct for attempting to deceive his superiors.
Superintendent Mark Logar ruled that since Young had nothing to gain from the deception and had stuck by his story until his own words were literally handed to him, there wasn’t enough to find him guilty of wilful deception and misconduct.
But Supt. Logar said he had his reservations.
“I should also briefly mention that Const. Young’s demeanour while testifying was not particularly reassuring,” added Supt. Logar. “He appeared agitated and occasionally gave answers in a very disjointed fashion.”
In the end, Supt. Logar ruled, he didn’t have enough evidence to “close the gap” to prove that Young knowingly lied.
“The evidence did raise abundant suspicion, but did not go past that,” he wrote.
Young’s public safety portfolio will now be handled by Calgary’s Rick Fraser, who is already the associate minister in charge of flood recovery efforts in High River.
George VanderBurg takes over Young’s old job as whip.