ATHABASCA - A man who fought off several RCMP members, was pepper sprayed, then nearly kicked his way through a police vehicle’s door had “superhuman strength” during an early morning altercation in 2020, three officers testified.
Jesse Matthew Rodstrom was sentenced to 101 days in jail in Athabasca Provincial Court July 4 stemming from two charges of assaulting a police officer, one count of resisting a peace officer, one count of obstructing a police officer, one count of mischief, and one count of failure to appear in court.
After hearing testimony from three officers who were working in Athabasca at the time, Judge Rosanna Saccomani agreed with the recommendations on sentencing from Crown prosecutor Nicole Parker.
First on the stand was Cpl. Samuel Hilliard, who was stationed in Fort McMurray at the time, and still is, but was assigned to Athabasca to cover a staff shortage on Oct. 5, 2020.
He told court he responded to a call from a rural residence, along with two other officers, in Athabasca County at 1:50 a.m., for a 22-year-old man “that was possibly high on drugs.” Lights and sirens were deactivated as they approached the property in an effort not to spook Rodstrom and cause him to run.
As he approached the open door of the residence, Rodstrom noticed and ran to his bedroom, which put the officers on high alert. Hilliard testified that he and another officer initially managed to detain Rodstrom but had to call in a third, and all four wrestled on the floor until he was detained.
“It was three of us larger males on just him and it was nearly impossible to control him,” Hilliard said.
After the initial wrestling match, Hilliard testified that Rodstrom appeared to calm himself but again began resisting when they attempted to take him from the home. With an officer on each side, Rodstrom threw his feet against the door frame in an effort to resist, at which point Hilliard said blows were likely deployed to be able to transfer Rodstrom to the police vehicle, but he continued to kick, striking both the officers.
“He was very easily handling us. It surprised me. From my experience, I've been a peace officer for 22 years, this was the first time I came across somebody with what I would like to say was superhuman strength. It was unbelievable. He didn't tire,” Hilliard said.
While transporting him to the detachment, Rodstrom began kicking the door of the vehicle, after slipping through his own arms to bring his cuffed hands to his front. After he was warned several times to stop, Hilliard deployed pepper-spray, which still did not stop the assault on the door. Eventually, Rodstrom caused enough damage that Hilliard stopped the vehicle on the road.
Paramedics were waiting at the detachment, but there was so much pepper-spray in the backseat of the vehicle they could approach him in the backseat, Hilliard added.
Soon after Rodstrom became “100 per cent a different person”, he said.
“I don't know but he was a totally different person, and it was amazing to see.”
The two other RCMP officers also testified at the two-hour trial, backing up Hilliard’s testimony with their own perspectives on the incident that night.
Judge Saccomani agreed with Parker’s position on sentencing and handed down 45 days for each of the two counts of assaulting an officer, plus five days for resisting an officer and another day for damaging the vehicle.
Returning to court following a break, Rodstrom also pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing a police officer following a March 21, 2022, incident involving an off-duty officer, and received an additional five days, which was also covered by the time he already served.
Parker told court the local RCMP member was off-duty and noticed an individual riding a bike and holding a knife on Highway 2, so he initiated a traffic stop and asked for identification, which the man, who turned out to be Rodstrom, refused.
The officer told him he was under arrest for obstruction and a short chase ensued. On-duty officers soon arrived, and it was found Rodstrom had several warrants for his arrest.
Earlier in the day, Rodstrom was sentenced to a single day in jail for failing to attend court in 2019.
All that added up to 101 days in custody, which were all deemed served after his previous time in custody was enhanced at 1.5 times.