Peel police officer not facing charges after woman’s nose was broken during a mental health-related takedown in Mississauga

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A Peel Regional Police officer will not be facing charges in connection with an arrest in Mississauga that left a 37-year-old woman in crisis with a facial injury, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says. 

The SIU report says the officer involved in the investigation refused to be interviewed (officers are not legally required to submit to interviews with the police watchdog), but did release his incident notes. 

The SIU report says that around 11:00 p.m. on May 10, 2020, a police team was mobilized to respond to an incident on Loyalist Drive involving the woman and a reported firearm. The report says the woman, who was distraught and feeling suicidal, had previously called a crisis centre and said that she purchased a gun the day before and was planning on harming herself with it. 

The crisis centre reportedly told police that the firearm might be in her jacket.

Around 11:30 pm, a group of about six armed officers reportedly saw the woman sitting on the front porch, holding a cigarette in her right hand and her cell phone in her left hand. The report says the woman was surprised to see the officers converging upon her and "failed to adequately respond to their directions." 

The report says she "delayed when she was ordered to put down her cell phone and place herself prone on the ground" and was subsequently forced to the ground by an officer. When she was forced down, her face struck the pavement and her nose was broken. 

With the woman prone on the ground, the officer proceeded to discharge his CEW (taser) into her buttocks "when he heard [another officer] indicate that she was reaching for something." 

Shortly thereafter, the woman was handcuffed, taken to hospital and "involuntarily admitted for psychiatric examination." 

Joseph Martino, the Director of the SIU, says that while the officer was likely responsible for her broken nose, he does not believe he "committed a criminal offence" in connection with the woman's arrest and injury.

"Given the [woman's] significant inebriation at the time and her expressed desire to harm herself with a gun she claimed to have in her possession, I am satisfied that the officers were within their rights in apprehending the woman under [the Mental Health Act]," Martino wrote in the report. 

Martino said the officers' actions were justified because the woman was "inebriated" and did not obey commands to get down on the ground, something that reportedly frightened the armed tactical officers who surprised her at the scene. 

Martino says the officers did not find a gun in her jacket or on her person. 

Acknowledging that she was a "small physical challenge" for the half a dozen tactical officers who cornered her, Martino says the possible presence of a firearm made the aggressive takedown appropriate,  

"In the circumstances, while options short of a weapon's deployment might have been available, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the [officer's] choice in the heat of the moment fell afoul of the latitude conferred on officers in measuring the degree of their responsive force," Martino wrote. 

"In the result, as I am satisfied that the officers conducted themselves lawfully at all times throughout their encounter with the [woman] notwithstanding her injury, there are no grounds for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed."

If you or someone else is in crisis, you can contact the Region of Peel for support.

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