Peel police officer not facing charges after woman bitten by police dog in Mississauga
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) will not be laying charges against a Peel Regional Police officer who allowed his police dog to track down an 18-year-old woman who was a suspect in a series of thefts and break-ins, injuring her in the process.
According to an SIU report, the incident took place after police officers began pursuing a white pick-up truck that was reportedly involved in a series of thefts and break and enters on the night of July 24, 2019.
The SIU says that when the pickup truck failed to stop, the pursuit was terminated in the interests of public safety. Sometime later, that same vehicle was involved in a single-vehicle crash. The report says that police found and arrested two of the occupants who were standing at the side of the road, but believed other people had fled the scene.
According to the report, a K-9 officer and his police dog were dispatched to the area to attempt to locate the outstanding suspects. The woman who was eventually bitten and a second person were eventually located by the dog in a small space in the backyard of a residence on Fortune Place in Mississauga.
The SIU says the dog, having sniffed out the hidden parties, entered the hiding area and gripped and bit the woman's upper right thigh.
The woman was arrested and taken to hospital, where the bite wound was treated.
Joseph Martino, director of the SIU, wrote that it was reasonable for the officer to deploy the dog to seek out the suspects.
"At the outset, I have no hesitation in concluding that the [woman's] arrest was lawful. There were, in my view, reasonable grounds to believe that she was associated with the stolen pick-up truck that had just been involved in a pursuit and was located nearby on Stonecutter Crescent," Martino wrote in the report.
"With respect to the [officer's] use of the dog to assist in the [woman's] apprehension, I am also satisfied that it was a reasonably necessary tactic in the circumstances."
Martino said it would not have been safe for the officer to attempt to apprehend the suspects himself, as they were hiding in a very small area and could have been armed.
"As such, he determined, reasonably in my view, that the police dog should be sent into the area to apprehend and hold the suspects. I find that this was a prudent option in the circumstances," Martino wrote.
Martino said that there is some evidence that after the woman raised her arms and effectively surrendered, the dog bit her again for no apparent reason—a departure from its training.
"While this evidence is at odds with the evidence of a police witness, I am prepared to accept it for purposes of these reasons. In my view, on this record, there are no reasonable grounds to believe the [officer] was criminally negligent in his use of the dog."
Martino said that the officer will not be charged.
The SIU is an arm's length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
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