Peel police officers not charged after man hospitalized following arrest in Mississauga

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Peel Regional Police officers will not be facing any charges after a 24-year-old man was seriously injured and hospitalized following a 2018 arrest in Mississauga, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says.  

An SIU report says that on the evening of Dec. 30, 2018, officers were conducting RIDE spot checks when the suspect approached and then fled the spot check. 

The report says the suspect crashed the vehicle he was driving into a pole and fled, prompting police officers to pursue him before one officer deployed a Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW or taser). 

The SIU says the man was taken to Credit Valley Hospital and admitted. He was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a serious medical condition caused by a significant muscle injury that leads to the death of muscle fibres and the release of their contents into the bloodstream. This syndrome can lead to serious complications such as renal (kidney) failure. 

The man stayed in the hospital and was observed for complications. 

On Jan. 2, 2019, family members of the man reported that he also suffered a fractured leg.

The report says that shortly before 9:00 p.m. on the night of the incident, an officer was parked in the parking lot of a restaurant in the Queen Street East and Hansen Road area in Brampton when he saw the man leave the establishment and enter a red Chrysler 200. 

The officer was conducting RIDE investigations at the time and decided to follow the man's vehicle while it made a series of turns. While traveling south on Hansen Road, the man reportedly lost control of his vehicle and it mounted the Orenda Road curb and struck a light pole, sustaining substantial damage in the process.

The officer notified police that he was in pursuit of the Chrysler. The report says the man continued and the officer terminated the chase around the time the entered the 410. 

The report says the man continued driving until he abandoned his vehicle on Derry Road at the 410 southbound ramp. 

The report says there is "some evidence" that the man made his way west toward the Petro Canada gas station located on the northeast corner of the Derry and Kennedy Roads intersection to call a towing company. 

Soon after his arrival, he was confronted by another officer, who told him to put his hands behind his back. The SIU says the officer then rushed the man and placed him in a chokehold, whereupon he slipped on some ice and fell to the ground. The officer fell with the man, maintaining his chokehold while the man lay prone on the ground. 

The report says one witness said the man attempted to loosen the officer's grip around his neck while another officer arrived on scene. That officer allegedly shot him with a conducted energy weapon, causing his body to seize. Around the same time, an officer allegedly punched the man in the face six or seven times. 

The report says that this evidence suggests that, other than the man's efforts to remove the officer's arm from his neck, he did not resist his arrest.

Another officer, however, said when she arrived at the scene she saw the man and an officer engaged in a physical altercation on the ground. She said that the officer was on top of the man, who was on the ground with his arms tucked beneath his body, refusing to give them up. 

She claims the officer shouted at the man to stop resisting his arrest and tasered him when he refused to do so. 

According to the report, other witnesses said the man was tasered several times as he reportedly resisted arrest. 

In the report, Joseph Martino, the interim director of the SIU, says he accepts that the man was injured over the course of his arrest, but does not believe the officers should be criminally charged. 

"If a charge were to be laid in this case, it would have to be on the strength of the more incriminating version of events. If believed, the [man] was the victim of excessive force on the part of the officers for which they would be liable in an assault-based offence. Having considered the evidence carefully, however, I am persuaded that it would be unsafe and unwise to rest criminal charges on it," Martino wrote.

Martino said the assertion that the man was only struggling to take the officer's hand off his neck so he could breathe is "belied by his reckless flight from police moments earlier in which he gave every indication that he was bent on avoiding apprehension." 

Martino also said that other witness officers said that the man actively resisted being taken into custody. 

"For these and other reasons, I am left with little to no reliable information in this body of evidence regarding the degree of the [man]'s resistance to the arrest," he wrote, adding that there's no evidence that the arresting officers used further force once the man was successfully handcuffed. 

"There remains, in my view, insufficient grounds to believe the force used by the officers fell afoul of the latitude prescribed by the criminal law," he wrote.

The SIU 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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