Peel Regional Police officers not facing charges after man’s lung collapses during arrest in Mississauga: SIU

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The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says Peel Regional Police officers did not use an unlawful amount of force during an arrest in which a 43-year-old suspect ended up in hospital with a collapsed lung and puncture wounds. 

The SIU report says that around 12:30 a.m. on October 11, 2019, police received a call about a break and enter in progress at 1740 Drew Road in Mississauga. Three officers travelled in their cruisers to the area and located a man running away from the address. 

According to the report, the man saw the cruises and fled, prompting the officers to chase him. At one point, an officer turned his cruiser into the path of the man and the man ran into the driver's side of the vehicle and stumbled momentarily before regaining his footing and continuing to flee. 

The SIU says he travelled a short distance further before he was tackled from behind by an officer and handcuffed. After the arrest, the man was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a minor collapse of his lower left lung and a small puncture wound to the lower right torso. 

The report says the man was holding a tire iron over the course of the incident. 

Joseph Martino, director of the SIU, wrote that some evidence suggests that the man was repeatedly kicked in the chest while being held down by the officers as he offered no resistance to his arrest. 

"If this evidence were true, the [man] may well have been the victim of an unlawful assault. However, the evidence that suggests this is far too unreliable to warrant resting criminal charges on it," Marino wrote. 

Martino wrote that CCTV footage clearly depicted the [man's] takedown from behind at the hands of an officer, and that "the incriminating evidence" suggests that the man fell to the ground after being struck by a police cruiser. 

"There are other aspects of this incriminating evidence that are problematic. The cumulative impact of these weaknesses renders this incriminating evidence insufficiently reliable to warrant criminal charges," Martino wrote. 

"When one turns to the reliable evidence around the force that was used in aid of the [man's] arrest, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the officers did not transgress the limits of the law. By the time the [man] ran into the driver's side of the [officer's] cruiser, he had given the officers every indication he would not surrender peacefully. He had ignored repeated demands to stop and continued running even after [a witness officer] pulled up alongside him in his cruiser." 

Marino wrote that he is unable to conclude that the officer acted unreasonably when he maneuvered his cruiser in front of the man, as there was an "urgent" need to arrest the suspect as soon as possible. Martino said also said the vehicle was meant to block the man—not strike him. 

Martino said that CCTV footage shows that an officer delivered four knee strikes to the man, but that he doesn't believe such force was excessive.

"I am similarly satisfied that the officers did not run afoul of the law. To reiterate, the [man] was determined to avoid apprehension. In the circumstances, I cannot fault [the officer] for tackling him from behind when, despite being confronted by two cruisers right on his heels, the [man] remained undeterred and continued to flee from the officers." 

"Once on the ground, the officers noticed a tire iron on the [man's] person and struggled to overcome his resistance. Believing it was necessary that the [man] be subdued as quickly as possible in the interests of everyone's safety, [an officer] delivered four knee strikes. Thereafter, the officers were able to wrest control of the [man's] arms and affix them in handcuffs. No further force of any kind was used by the officers."

Marino wrote that while he accepts that the man's collapsed lung and puncture wound might have been sustained during the incident, "there are no grounds in the evidence to reasonably conclude that one or more of the [officers] acted unlawfully at any point. 

No criminal charges will be laid and the file is closed.

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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