Hamilton officer was right to tackle hammer-wielding woman, SIU concludes

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Published September 2, 2022 at 6:30 pm

SIU

A Hamilton Police officer was justified in tackling a hammer-wielding woman who elected to take the law into her own hands, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has concluded.

At around 3 p.m. on May 6, Hamilton Police Service responded to a call about a disturbance downtown near the Wesley Day Centre on Catharine St N and Rebecca St.

On arrival, a woman, 39, later dubbed the Complainant in the SIU report, walked across the street to report to them that her wallet had just been stolen.

The three officers, including the Subject Officer (SO) who would later tackle the Complainant, were occupied with numerous loiterers at the time by the Hamilton Police Investigative Service Building. The officer told her she had to wait for them to address her concerns.

The Complainant was angry and saw the delay as police inaction. The Complainant left the officers and went to grab a hammer. She turned to the cops from across the road and told the officers that “she was going to take matters into her own hands,” the SIU report reads. She had elected to go after the wallet thief herself.

She turned away from the officers and stormed west down Catherine St N. The SO reacted first and took off after the Complainant. The SO caught up to the woman by the Wesley Day Centre entrance and tackled her to the ground.

The Complainant “landed hard,” per the SIU. She was later taken to Juravinski Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a dislocated pelvis and possibly a broken hip.

The SIU, which investigates all interactions with police that result in death or serious injury, was informed of the takedown at around 9 p.m.

Over the course of their investigation, the SIU reviewed security camera footage of the area. The footage, shot from two angles, shows the Complainant walking “briskly” with the hammer at her waist. The SO is seen chasing along behind.

The Complainant continued her march with the hammer in her right hand and a black face mask in her left. The video show the SO tackle the Complainant, whose knee struck the pavement first.

The SO landed on top of the Complainant’s back, straddling her. Two other officers approach seconds later. However, the SO is the only one who physically dealt with the Complainant. The SO cuffed the Complainant, and all four parties waited for an ambulance.

After reviewing the footage and other evidence, SIU Director Joseph Martino concluded the SO was justified in tackling the Complainant.

Martino said there was “no reasonable grounds to believe” the SO committed an offence when she tackled the Complainant. The SO had every reason to detain the Complainant on a charge of possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

“In light of the Complainant’s angry demeanour, threatening utterances, and possession of a hammer, the SO had grounds to seek her arrest,” he concluded.

The tackle, Martino found, was an exercise of reasonable force, saying, “The Complainant had a hammer in her hand, appeared determined to use it, and was in a public place. She needed to be brought under control as quickly as possible.”

“In the result, while it is regrettable that the SO seriously injured the Complainant, her injuries are not attributable to any unlawful behaviour on the officer’s part,” Martino decided.

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