SIU Says Peel Police Officers Will Not Face Charges Following Man’s Injury in Mississauga

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The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), an arm's length agency that investigates concerning incidents involving police and the public, says there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against any Peel Regional police officers in relation to injuries sustained by a 27-year-old man in Mississauga.

According to a report by SIU director Tony Loparco, officers were called to the Quality Inn Motel in Mississauga to respond to reports of a man—the complainant—assaulting a woman and holding her against her will on February 28, 2016. The SIU says that reports also indicated that the suspect in question was known to carry knives.

According to the report, several uniformed officers spotted the complainant in the hallway and asked him to confirm his identity.

After the complainant confirmed that he was the suspect in question, the SIU says he was advised that he was under arrest for assault. When an officer placed a handcuff on the complainant's left wrist, he reportedly pulled away and tried to run. At that point, a second officer took hold of the complainant and advised him to stop resisting.

According to the report, the complainant continued to struggle and was subsequently grounded by both officers. While he was on the ground, officers became concerned that he was attempting to reach into his pocket for a knife. According to Loparco, one officer used "four forceful knee strikes to the complainant's back to gain control of his right arm."

After the fourth knee strike, the complainant gave up his right arm and was handcuffed.

The report says a spring assisted knife with a three to four inch blade was located in the complainant's right front pocket.

Once the complainant was booked at the police station, he complained of a tooth ache and asked to be taken to the hospital. The report says that was his first complaint of any injury while in police custody.

His request was denied by the booking officer, and the complainant suddenly became short of breath and complained that his entire body hurt, including his abdomen.

The complainant was transported to hospital and subsequent x-rays indicated two rib fractures, although the medical evidence could not fully pinpoint when the fractures were sustained.

The SIU says photos of the man taken shortly after the organization became involved only showed a small laceration near the outside edge of his left eyebrow—an injury the man reportedly sustained while struggling with the victim at the motel. The reports says photos of the complainant's torso revealed no marks, bruises or injuries.

The complainant said that officers used excessive force in apprehending him, but the SIU report indicates that it ultimately decided not to press charges because "…it is clear from the 911 call that police had reasonable grounds to believe that the offence of assault had been committed by the complainant and that an offence of unlawful confinement was ongoing at the time. As such, the apprehension of the complainant was legally justified in the circumstances."

The report goes on to explain its reasoning in the face of excessive force claim.

"With respect to whether or not officers used excessive force in apprehending the complainant, it is unfortunate that the area of the motel wherein the interaction between police and the complainant took place was not monitored by any video surveillance. However, the statements provided by [officer 2] and three other witness officers present at the time of the arrest of the complainant, as well as four civilian witnesses, paint a fairly clear picture of what occurred on the night in question."

The report says that none of the civilian witnesses claimed to have seen the officer strike the complainant and that the man in question made no mention of injury for quite some time.

"I find that in the course of making that arrest, the complainant was actively resisting officers as they tried to handcuff him," Loparco writes. "The officers had been advised that the complainant may be armed with a knife…in light of the fact that police were aware of the complainant's history regarding violence and weapons and that they had been advised that the complainant was known to carry knives, I find that [officer 2] delivering the distractionary knee strikes to the complainant while he continued to resist and kept reaching for his front pocket was not unreasonable. Coincidentally, that front pocket was later searched and a spring assisted knife located."

Loparco went on to add that while evidence does not strongly suggest the man sustained rib injuries during the arrest, he believes that—even if he had—the officers were using appropriate force under the circumstances.

"I am, therefore, satisfied on reasonable grounds on this record that the actions exercised by the officers fell within the limits prescribed by the criminal law and there are no grounds for proceeding with charges in this case," he wrote.

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