SIU clears Niagara cops of wrongdoing after St. Catharines man breaks elbow

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Published June 20, 2022 at 5:35 pm

Two Niagara police officers have been cleared of any wrongdoing after a man’s elbow was broken during an arrest in St. Catharines.

Police responded to the man’s home at Dunlop Dr and Geneva St for an alleged domestic disturbance around 2:30 a.m.

The man, 29, and referred to as “the Complainant” was apparently staying in a family member’s basement temporarily and was allegedly quite drunk. The SIU said the man “had been violently quarreling” with his wife and daughter.

SIU investigators later learned the man was under court-ordered release conditions which forbade the man from entering the the home in the first place.

The call came in somewhat earlier closer to 12:30 a.m. Three witnessed called Niagara police regarding a domestic disturbance.  A witness (Witness 3) reported hearing a woman screaming in the basement of the house.

Another caller reported her parents were fighting and her mother was bleeding from the eye. Minutes later witness three reported the a woman yelled “Don’t touch me!” and had a great deal of blood coming from her eye.

Witness Four recorded the sound of a fight through the walls of her apartment. She heard the man screaming to “open the door” while another voice shouted “pedophile” before crying out in pain.

They heard the man laughing “hysterically,” the sounds of banging and repeated shouts of “Woo Woo,” similar to a train whistle.

There was an outside door to the basement, and investigators allege the man had barricaded himself, his wife and his daughter behind it.

After attempts to communicate with the man were met with “threats and profanity,” the cops tried to pry the door open but were someone or something blocked them.

They then fired a taser through a small opening they had managed in the door. The shot missed and stuck into the wall at around 1 a.m.

Officer went into the main floor to get to another interior entrance to the basement. While also barricaded, other officers were able to break this door in. The man noticed this and ran out the rear, outside door in to the hands of waiting cops.

With the door now open, police ordered the man to the ground. He initially compiled, but tried to get up and got tased for his efforts, per police. The cops arrested the man, cuffed him and tossed him in the back of their cruiser.

A fifth witness caught the entry on video. Police ram the door as Witness Three stands at the top of the stairs. Back up police pulled out a rifle just before the dog ran out of the house.

The man brought his hands cuffed hands from behind to the front of his body while in the car. When he arrived at a St. Catharines hospital for cuts on his feet, doctors found his elbow dislocated and fractured.

Niagara Regional Police contacted the Special Investigations Unit, which investigates injuries during police interactions, at 4:30 a.m.

When the SIU later survey the scene of the arrest confirming the use of the taser and found “obvious” blood staining. The SIU report reads, “the apartment was extremely disrupted. Belongings were scattered throughout the apartment. Blood deposits were observed throughout the apartment.”

“There was also broken glass on the floor. In a bedroom there was a large deposit of blood on the floor, and [taser] components were found inside that bedroom,” they continues. The SIU later confirmed both officers had fired the tasers.

The blood trail continued outside up an exterior stairwell. Blood continued to the street, through the snow consistent with someone who had cut their feet. Apparently an officer and the man slipped and fell in the snow.

SIU director Joseph Martine in his written decision said, “no reasonable grounds to believe” either cop had committed a criminal offence. He concluded that both officers were well within their right to resort to force in these circumstances.

“In light of the Complainant’s disposition for violence at the time, it would appear that [the officer’s] resort to his [taser] was reasonable.”

He believed the same about the second use of the taser as well, “The Complainant had given the officers every reason to expect that a physical engagement would be met with strenuous resistance.”

While “it remains unclear when the Complainant’s elbow injuries were incurred,” Martino said there is no cause to believe the officer, “comported themselves other than lawfully.”

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