Police cleared after breaking a suspect’s nose in Mississauga GO Train station

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Published July 13, 2022 at 9:38 pm

A Peel Regional Police officer is off the hook after the Special Investigations Unit found he was justified in throwing the punch that broke a suspect’s nose during an arrest.

In December 2021, a man known as the Complainant in the SIU report was waiting for a bus at the Cooksville GO station around 7:40 p.m. He saw some people he knew standing in the GO station and went over to the group

A Peel Regional Police officer, identified as the Subject Officer (SO), was patrolling the area at the time as part of Strategic Targeted Enforcement Program (STEP).

This program was an PRP initiative to more proactively enforce Liquor Licence Act, Trespass to Property Act and Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in areas with high crime rates.

The area around the Cooksville station, near Hurontario St and Dundas St, had been identified as one such area had been identified as one such area.

The cops also had reason to believe people were taking drugs in the new multi-level parking garage at the station, the SIU report reads.

When the SO first saw the group from a distance he believed he was a watching a drug deal go down, the SIU claimed. He approached the group in an unmarked car and “sensing the Complainant was getting ready to flee” ordered him not to.

Metrolinx security cameras shows a woman and two people milling about near the stations fence. As the officer approaches a man can be seen walking away from the group.

The Complainant ran as the officer began to follow him, bolting eastward from the SO into a neighbouring parking lot. The SO caught up and tackled the Complainant to the ground.

Then the SO rolled the Complainant onto his front and straddled his rear and tried to control his arms. Before he could be restrained, the Complainant was able to grab a can pepper spray and discharge it at the SO.

The Complainant began to try to “buck” the officer off him. A struggle ensued and the SO still on top of the Complainant threw numerous left and right hand punches in his head. He then tazed the Complainant twice, first for nine seconds and then for 12.

After this the So managed to handcuff the Complainant, who had to have the taser prongs removed by Paramedics and was later diagnosed with a broken nose.

The SO then radioed dispatch that he had one in custody and two others had fled. He reported “he pepper sprayed me,” and he could not see out of one eye when he called for an ambulance.

The body worn camera of a Witness Officer, WO #3, filmed the fallout of the arrest once backup officers arrived. The Complainant was crying in the aftermath of his arrest. The SO pointed out the can of pepper spray which the Complainant claimed was for dogs.

WO #3 responded, “Yah, for dogs, not officers.” The Complainant claimed not to know the SO was a cop. When the SO asked if he had just been tasered the Complainant said he had also caught some of the pepper spray.

The Complainant was wearing a backpack and “begged” for it not to be cutoff. The officers cut it off anyway as an officer said, “Don’t pepper spray cops buddy.”

“Again the Complainant cried that he did not know the man was a police officer. He stated he had been knocked out.” the report reads. He began to vomit and confessed to officers he had taken fentanyl that day.

Once in an ambulance spray was dog repellent that he carried for coyotes, which he often saw around the Metro grocery store at Central Parkway and Cliff Road.

While being treated he told the paramedic he was knocked out after the police officer’s forehead hit him in the eye area, the first hit. He claimed he awoke on his stomach and the SO was going through his pockets, so he sprayed the him.

In his decision, SIU director Joseph Martino said he believed there was no grounds the SO committed a crime in his arrest of the Complainant.

“Police officers are immune from criminal liability for force used in the course of their duties provided such force was reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they were required or authorized to do by law,” Martino said.

He found the SO used no more force than necessary to detain the complainant. “The tackle from behind is understandable given the Complainant was running away from the officer and seemingly had no intention of stopping,” he said

“Thereafter, the punches and [taser] discharges, I am satisfied, were proportionate responses in the context of a physical altercation with a man who had sprayed the officer with pepper spray and was vigorously attempting to break free of the SO’s hold,” Martino concluded.

However Martino also said he was not satisfied the SO had sufficient probable cause to detain the Complainant.

“The time of day, his understanding that the GO station was closed, his knowledge of the area as being high in drug crime and what he believed he observed to be a hand-to-hand transaction of some sort – considerations the SO referenced to justify his decision – would seem to fall short of establishing reasonable and probable grounds for an arrest.”

That said Martino found the SO has an “arguable” grounds to arrest the man under the Trespass to Property Act though conceded he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the justification.

Describing the GO station as fenced of and vacant, Martino said “Whether or not this series of factors would satisfy a court that the Complainant was, in fact, trespassing, I am satisfied that it provided the officer a reasonable basis for concluding he had the requisite grounds to make a lawful arrest.”

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