Peel Regional Police officer not charged after breaking man’s ribs during arrest in Mississauga: SIU

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Published April 9, 2021 at 7:50 pm

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A Peel Regional Police officer will not be facing any criminal charges after breaking a 57-year-old man’s ribs and causing his lung to partially collapse during an arrest in Mississauga, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said. 

The report says the officer under investigation refused to be interviewed or turn over his notes, which is his legal right. 

According to an SIU report, a person concerned about the safety of a friend called police around 10:30 pm on the night of Nov. 6, 2020, to report that said friend had been assaulted by a man in her apartment who was not permitted to be in contact with her. 

The report says that two officers knocked on the door of the apartment, announced their status as police, explained why they were there and repeatedly asked the woman to let them in so they could check on her well-being. The report says the woman refused and denied that the man was there or that anything was wrong. 

The report says the officers did not feel they could leave and requested the presence of a Tactical and Rescue Unit (TRU) team. 

The report says that around 11:50 p.m., the TRU team forced their way into the unit and brought the woman into the hallway. The report says the woman insisted the man was not there, but he was eventually located on the balcony.

According to the report, the man had attempted to climb onto another balcony at one point but was rebuffed by the tenant. 

The report says an officer fired his conducted energy weapon (Taser) at the man after he refused to show his hands. Around this time, another officer on another balcony fired at him as well. The report says the second Taser deployment stunned the man, who fell to the ground with his arms underneath him. The report says that when the man refused to give up his hands, an officer struck him in the side with his knee, breaking his ribs and causing his lung to partially collapse. 

Following his arrest, the man was taken to the police station, where he began to complain of pain. He was transported to a hospital and diagnosed with several left-sided rib fractures and a partial pneumothorax.

Joseph Martino, the director of the SIU, said he does not believe the officer who struck the man with his knee committed a criminal offence or used excessive force during the arrest. 

“In my view, there is insufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that anything more than reasonably necessary force was involved in the man’s arrest,” Martino wrote, adding that officers were correct to breach the apartment knowing the man was not supposed to be visiting the woman in the unit.  

Martino said the officers were challenged by the location, as they were on a fourth-floor balcony with a man who appeared intent on evading officers. 

“They had cause to be concerned for their safety; the [man] had given every indication of seeking to escape police apprehension. Indeed, moments earlier, they had learned that the [man] had even tried to scale balconies over to a neighbouring apartment but had been rebuffed by the tenants. In the circumstances, there was also reason to fear for the [man’s] safety should he decide to resist his arrest,” Martino wrote. 

Martino said he believes the knee strike was justified given the man’s refusal to give up his hands after being hit with a Taser. 

“Considered in context, the knee strike and further CEW discharges would appear a justifiable use of force by an officer reasonably concerned to take the [man] into custody as soon as possible to avoid any of the perils associated with a protracted struggle on a fourth-floor balcony,” Martino wrote. 

“In the final analysis, while I accept that the [man’s] injuries were inflicted by the [officer], the result of the knee strike to his side, I am also of the view that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the force used by the officer was disproportionate to the exigencies at hand. Accordingly, there is no basis to proceed with criminal charges against the [officer].”

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