Police officers accused of assaulting a suspect in a motel parking lot in Mississauga not facing charges: SIU

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Several Peel Regional Police officers who were accused of beating a suspect during an arrest in a motel parking lot in Mississauga will not be facing charges due to "frailties" in the man's allegations, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said. 

According to an SIU report, accounts of what happened when a 36-year-old man was arrested by plainclothes officers in the early morning hours of May 30, 2019, differ. 

The report says that around 1:00 a.m., an officer informed two other officers that he had located a stolen vehicle in the parking lot of the White Knight Motel at 6965 Dixie Road. 

The SIU says the officers, who were wearing plain clothes in unmarked vehicles, were on the lookout for stolen vehicles.

The SIU alleges that the suspect in question was in possession of a stolen Mercedes-Benz sedan at the time of the incident. According to the report, he pulled into the parking lot following an "eventful evening" in which his attempt to rendezvous with a woman at an address in Brampton was thwarted when occupants of the home threw tools in his direction.

The report says the man was resting in the vehicle when an officer knocked on the window to get his attention. Startled and panicked by the officer's presence, the man reportedly reversed and collided with another officer's unmarked vehicle, which had been positioned behind the Mercedes-Benz to block any attempt at escape. 

The SIU says at this point, the evidence of what exactly took place diverges.

The report says that according to some evidence, the man exited the vehicle after the collision and stood with his hands clasped behind the back of his head before an officer handcuffed him with his arms in front of his body without incident, after which the same officer allegedly pulled him forward and down to the ground face-first. 

The report says some evidence suggests that the man was then rolled onto his back and repeatedly punched in the face and chest by two officers before being picked up and placed in the rear of an unmarked police vehicle. 

According to the report, the officers allege that the man struggled against their efforts to secure his arms in handcuffs. The officers told the SIU that they were able to wrestle control of his arms without striking him and handcuff him with his hands behind his back before placing him in the back seat of a police vehicle that arrived at the scene to transport him to the station.

The report says the man was subsequently diagnosed with a nose fracture of "indeterminate age."

Joseph Martino, director of the SIU, says that while some evidence supports the idea that the man received an unlawful beating at the hands of two police officers, "frailties" associated with the incriminatory evidence give him "pause." 

Martino said the incriminatory evidence suggests that the man complained of the assault later that morning during his appearance in court, although a transcript of that proceeding indicates no such complaint being captured on the record. 

Marino also said that although evidence shows the man had black eyes that he said he sustained during the assault, the injury was reportedly not apparent in a mugshot taken after the arrest or in a photograph taken when he was admitted to a detention centre. 

"Finally, the incriminatory evidence's support for the claim that the [man] was handcuffed to the front seems improbable and implausible, particularly given the [man's] attempt at escape during which he struck a police car," Martino wrote. 

Martino also said the man appeared to misidentify some officers involved in the alleged assault. 

"A charging authority, such as the SIU, must limit its assessments of the strength of the evidence to threshold considerations to avoid usurping the proper role of the court as the final arbiter of factual and legal contests," Martino wrote. 

"Were it only for the weaknesses connected with the incriminatory evidence unrelated to issues of identification, the evidence might well have been strong enough to warrant charges against one or more of the involved officers. Coupled with the difficulties in the evidence on the question of identification, however, I am satisfied the incriminatory evidence in its totality is insufficiently cogent to warrant being put to the test before a court. With respect to what is left of the evidence, I am unable to reasonably conclude that any of the officers involved in the [man's] arrest used excessive force in taking him into custody." 

Marino said the file is closed.

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