SIU says use of police dog in arrest of reportedly intoxicated man was reasonable

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The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says that a Peel Regional Police officer will not be charged after his police dog injured a suspect during an arrest in Mississauga.

An SIU report says that shortly after 2:00 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2019, officers were dispatched to a self-storage facility at 2605 Summerville Court. 

According to the report, an employee of the facility had called to report that an allegedly impaired driver - the man who was eventually injured by the police dog - had crashed his pickup truck in the facility's parking lot. 

According to the report, the man—who was reportedly intoxicated and had a dog in his truck—left his vehicle after the crash and made his way into his storage unit, closing the sliding metal door behind him. When confronted by the officer and other officers outside the unit, the man reportedly refused to show them both hands or assist in lifting the door.

The report says officers lifted the door and saw the man, whose right hand was out of view. 

"This caused the officer serious concern, as [the officer] could also see the handle of a machete close by on the floor to the [man's] right," the report reads. 

According to the report, the officer released the police dog, who proceeded to bite into the man's lower left leg. With the dog still latched to the leg, officers entered the unit and arrested the man without further incident. The officer subsequently released the dog.

Following his arrest, the man was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was diagnosed and treated for several lacerations and puncture wounds.

Joseph Martino, director of the SIU, said the use of the police dog was reasonable under the circumstances.

"Given what the officers knew of the [man's] intoxication, crashed vehicle and flight into the storage building, I am satisfied he was subject to lawful arrest. Thereafter, I am further satisfied that the [officer] used no more force than was reasonably necessary by deploying the dog to engage the [man]," Martino wrote in the report.  

Martino said the [man] "had made it clear" that he was not about to cooperate in his arrest, as he failed to open the door to his storage unit when asked and then did not show his right hand when confronted by officers. 

"Once the vertical slide-door was lifted by the officers and the [man] refused to show his right hand, the [officer] was within his rights to engage the [man] at a distance with the use of his dog," Marino wrote, adding that police were concerned the man would reach for a nearby machete and use it as a weapon.

"Given the [man's] odd and obstinate behaviour to that point, the [officer's] concerns were well-founded and his use of the dog, therefore, reasonable. Once engaged, the dog appears to have acted as trained, namely, to bite and hold onto a limb until released by its handler after the subject has been restrained," Martino wrote. 

Martino said that while it is "regrettable" that the man suffered serious lacerations and puncture wounds, he cannot reasonably conclude that the arresting officer acted unlawfully. 

No criminal charges will be laid in connection with the incident. 

The SIU is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

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