Peel police officer not facing charges after man sustains severe facial injuries during arrest in Mississauga

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A Peel Regional Police officer will not be facing any criminal charges after severely injuring a 33-year-old man's face over the course of a September 2019 arrest in Mississauga, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says. 

The SIU says that around 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2019, an officer was patrolling the Mississauga Road area in plainclothes and an unmarked car when he saw three men wandering about the neighbourhood. 

According to the SIU, the man who was subsequently injured was wanted in connection with a series of break-and-enters in the GTA, including one where a handgun was reportedly stolen. The SIU says the group spotted in the Mississauga Road area included one individual whom the officer recognized as being a suspect in a recent break-and-enter that took place on Sept. 5, 2019. 

The officer called for uniformed officers to assist in their arrests, the SIU report says. 

The report says that shortly after 1:00 p.m., the plainclothes officer observed as uniformed officers arrested two of the suspects on Doulton Drive. The third—the man involved in the SIU investigation—escaped apprehension and ran away. 

The report says the officer exited his vehicle and chased him. The two men reportedly made their way across property lots, vaulting fences as they ran. 

The report says the officer drew his firearm at one point and repeatedly screamed at the man to stop and get on the ground.

The report says the officer and the man, tired from the chase, ended up in a backyard. According to the SIU, the officer re-holstered his firearm and told the man that he was under arrest. The report says the man turned to face the officer with his hands up but did not comply with the request to get on the ground. 

The report says the officer punched the man and took him to the ground while holding his left arm. The two struggled on the ground and the officer reportedly kneed the man and elbowed him in the face repeatedly.  

The man was handcuffed by another officer and taken into custody. 

Following his arrest, the man was taken from the scene in an ambulance to a hospital where he was diagnosed with a number of facial fractures.

Joseph Martino, the director of the SIU, says that while there is "some evidence" that the man was beaten by the officer while offering no resistance, he does not believe the officer used excessive force—especially since it's not entirely clear if the man tried to surrender before the struggle took place. 

"I am satisfied that the [officer] was proceeding to lawfully arrest the [man] when hostilities between the two were exchanged. Given his observations of the [man] and his associates, and what he knew of the break-and-enters going on in the area, the [officer] concluded, reasonably in my view, that he had grounds to apprehend the [man]."

Martino acknowledges that the officer's actions might have been on "the high end of the range of permissible force." 

"The force used by the officer against the [man] on the ground, consisting of a couple of knees to the torso followed by up to four elbow strikes to the face, was no doubt severe, as attested by the injuries the [man] suffered; however, I am unable to reasonably conclude that it crossed the line into excessive force," Martino wrote in the report.

"This was a fraught situation; the [man] had given the [officer] every reason to believe that he would not surrender peacefully, and the officer was right to be concerned about his personal safety. Considered in context and with the proper allowances granted the officer given the heat of the moment, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the force used by the [officer] against the [man] on the ground fell within the range of what was reasonably necessary to effect the [man's] arrest." 

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

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