No charges for officers who broke 70-year-old woman’s shoulder during Mississauga arrest
Published May 5, 2023 at 8:17 pm
Two Peel Regional officers have been cleared of wrongdoing after they threw a 70-year-old woman to the ground, breaking her shoulder.
The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) investigates any interaction with the police which results in death or serious injury. The complainant in this case, the 70-year-old woman informed the SIU personally about her arrest. This is unusual in that the police typically inform the SIU themselves.
When the woman called the SIU she described her arrest on Nov. 12, 2022. Early that morning, shortly after 5:30 a.m., someone called the police about a foul “suspicious” odour emanating from the woman’s basement apartment. The caller, who believed there may be a dead body in the home, was initially transferred to medical first responders who in turn requested a police response shortly before 6 a.m.
Police responded to the home near Cawthra Rd. and Bloor St., a residential neighbourhood on the city’s east side where they spoke with a man who lived in the home. The man had reportedly “had a few drinks” sometime before the police arrived.
While officers were talking with this man, the complainant came out of the home as well as recorded on police body cameras. The complainant was unhappy with the police presence and called the other resident “stupid” when he told the officers she was the homeowner.
The body cameras recorded the woman shout something unclear at one of the officers, later dubbed the Subject Official 1 (SO1) in the SIU report. The SO1 responded by shouting, “Ma’am you need to listen to what I’m saying, we need to clear the house to make sure nobody is in here, you need to move.”
Three officers, SO1, SO2 and a witness officer (WO) entered the home through a side door into the basement. SO2 is recorded standing in front of the complainant telling her “You need to go upstairs or you’re going to be arrested,” so the officers could search the basement. The complainant then shouts “Don’t touch me.”
She tried to move to the stairs with SO2 behind her. SO2 grabbed her left side from behind. As the complainant tried to turn around, SO1 tried to grab her right side. SO2 then put his right leg in front of the woman and threw her over it to the ground. As she fell, her right side smashed into a laundry basket on a nearby table as she landed on her stomach.
SO1 then knelt beside the complainant and handcuffed her. The complainant’s son, who also lived in the home, then came toward the basement door. So1 quickly stood and drew her gun. She ordered the son to raise his hands and get on the ground. He complied and demanded his mother be taken to a hospital.
The complainant was rolled onto her side. She complained of pain in her arm and SO1 uncuffed her. He then grabbed he by the right arm, later diagnosed as broken, and tried to lift the complainant who cried out in pain. SO1 let go and told the complainant to sit up on her own.
Around 6:15 a.m., SO2 explained to the woman they had been called about a possible dead body and the other resident they spoke to told them someone had broken into the basement. As a result the complainant was supposed to remain outside the basement as officers searched it.
“I apologize on behalf of all of us for doing what we did, because you weren’t listening,” her explained, “if you’re not gonna leave, we have to force you to leave, cuz we don’t want anything to happen to you.”
Peel Regional Paramedics later took the woman to Mississauga Trillium Hospital roughly a ten-minute drive from the home. The woman was diagnosed with a broken shoulder and admitted as a patient for four days.
Following her release, she contacted the SIU on Nov. 28 and then supplied medical evidence of her injuries in January 2023.
Months later, on May 5, the SIU wrapped it’s investigation with the decision not to charge the two subject officers. Director Joseph Martino wrote, ” there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either subject official committed a criminal offence,” in breaking the woman’s shoulder.
He cited section 25.1 of the Criminal Code which provides “police officers are immune from criminal liability for force used in the course of their duties provided such force was reasonably necessary.”
“A police officer’s foremost duty is the protection and preservation of human life. At the time of the incident under investigation, [the Sos] had reason to believe that an intruder might be present in the Complainant’s home,” Martino concluded noting they had to detain the woman for her own protection from this possible intruder.
“Considering the Complainant’s agitated state, I am further satisfied that the officers were within their rights in restraining her in handcuffs,” Martino added. He was also unable to conclude the officer’s use of force was excessive given the circumstances, though noted the take down may have been “a little over the top” given the complainant’s age and the presence of several other cops.
“While I accept that the Complainant’s injury was the result of the physical interventions by either or both [SOs] there are no reasonable grounds to believe it is attributable to unlawful conduct.”
The SIU did not share if an intruder was found in the basement.
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