SIU Not Laying Charges After Police Punch Man Multiple Times in Mississauga
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is not pressing charges against Peel Regional Police officers who repeatedly punched and kicked a man during an arrest in Mississauga.
The SIU says the incident, which it acknowledges contains disputed information, occurred on the second-floor stairway landing at a Studio 6 Motel (60 Britannia Road) on July 16, 2017, in Mississauga.
The officers told the SIU that they saw the man in question holding a bottle of beer in his right hand and told him he was being investigated for a contravention of the Liquor License Act (LLA).
The report says that when the man refused to identify himself, an officer advised him he was under arrest and proceeded to search his right front pocket, allegedly finding a bullet in the process.
The report says the man attempted to flee past the officer down the stairs but was grabbed by the second officer.
According to the second officer, he pushed the man's back against the wall and delivered a punch with his right hand to the man's left cheek. The first officer reportedly intervened in the altercation and punched the man two or three times in the face.
The report says the man physically resisted in an effort to escape through the doorway, prompting an officer to punch him in the stomach.
The SIU says the man keeled over in response to the strike and collapsed head-first into the wall. The officers told the SIU that they saw the man discard a firearm and what appeared to be drugs wrapped in cellophane over the course of the altercation.
The SIU says that there is some evidence that the man did not have a beer bottle and the officers asked him what he was doing and whether he had any weapons before quickly reaching into one of his pockets and finding nothing. The SIU says that, if this is true, there's evidence that the arrest was improper.
"The evidence suggests the [man] objected to the search and was pushed against the wall by the officer, who then delivered about three punches to his left cheek and one or two punches to the head. The man tried to run away to protect his head and was met with a punch to the stomach followed by a kick to the left side of the head," the report reads.
The man reportedly suffered a fractured left cheekbone.
"If the [man] did not have a beer bottle and the officers suddenly, without reason, used force against him, then what occurred amounts to an unlawful arrest, excessive force and a clear cut criminal offence on the part of one of the subject officers," says Joseph Martino, interim director of the SIU, the report.
"However, while I am cognizant of the need for a charging authority to limit its assessment of the strength of competing accounts to threshold considerations, I am satisfied it would be unsafe and unwise to proceed with charges against one or both of the subject officers owing to the nature and extent of the frailties associated with the incriminating evidence in this case. Instead, I am inclined to believe based on the strength of the reliable evidence that the Complainant was holding a beer bottle, had a bullet in his pocket, tried to flee and physically resisted arrest."
Martino says he's satisfied that the man was holding a beer bottle in the stairwell of the motel and that the subject officers had grounds to investigate him for breaching the LLA.
Martino said that it does appear that significant force was used.
"In the circumstances, the subject officers were entitled to respond with force and the question is whether the force they used was excessive or not. In my view, while the force that is reasonably established on the evidence, namely, three to four punches to the face, a punch to the stomach, several knee strikes to the torso and a grounding, approaches the limit of what was permissible in the circumstances, I am unable to reasonably conclude that it fell outside the range of what was necessary to subdue the [man] and secure his arrest given his level of resistance, notwithstanding the injury that the [man] appears to have suffered in the process. In arriving at this conclusion, I have in mind the common law principle that an officer in dynamic and violent circumstances is not expected to measure the degree of responsive force to a nicety; what is required is a reasonable response, not an exacting one."
The SIU is an arm's length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
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