Four Hamilton police officers cleared by SIU after man suffers multiple injuries during arrest

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Published July 14, 2021 at 8:08 pm

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Four officers with the Hamilton Police Service (HPS) were cleared by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) after a 54-year-old male complainant suffered injuries to his hand and ribs during an arrest.

On March 14, 2021, at around 4 p.m., police were called to an apartment building on Main St West regarding “a family trouble in progress” inside one of the units.

According to the SIU report, officers used a battering ram to gain access to the unit when the complainant refused to open the door.

Once inside, officers eventually noticed a man, who was later identified as the complainant’s stepfather, “unconscious with extensive facial injuries and labouring to breathe.”

When attempting to make the arrest, the report says the complainant attempted to bite one of the officers and was met with a punch to the head.

The struggle then reportedly made its way to the living room couch, where an office kneed the complainant twice in the left thigh before eventually being lifted to his feet.

The complainant was then transported to Central Station, where he reportedly “re-position his handcuffed arms to the front, initiated another physical altercation with police officers.”

While being led down a hallway toward an elevator that would take him to a holding cell, the complainant reportedly refused to move forward and “eventually wrapped his legs around the legs of one of the accompanying officers.”

As other officers attempted to separate the complainant from the officer’s body, the complainant “kicked his legs, flailed his body, spit at the officers, and attempted to bite,” according to the SIU report.

A taser was used on the complainant but it reportedly did not “quell” his fight, resulting in officers punching, kicking, and kneeing the complainant before his limbs were secured in shackles. 

After a third, similar altercation ensued where one officer was reportedly kneed in the groin by the complainant, the complainant was sent to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured left hand and two rib fractures. 

The SIU ruled that, given the extent of the complainant’s physical resistance, the force used by officers was not excessive.

“Inside the apartment, the officers had cause to believe that the Complainant had just perpetrated a vicious assault resulting in possible death,” said SIU Director, Joseph Martino. “When the complainant struggled as the officers attempted to secure him in handcuffs, they were entitled to respond with decisive force to ensure he was taken into custody as quickly as possible.”

The punches, kicks, and knee strikes delivered by police officers were considered “commensurate with the situation at hand.”

“For the foregoing reasons, while I accept that the complainant broke his ribs in the course of one or more of his physical altercations with officers, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any of the subject officials conducted themselves unlawfully in the course of his arrest and throughout his period of custody,” added Martino.

“Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.”

The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault, and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person.

All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians.

Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation.

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