A Peel police officer “approached the line” but "fell short" of using excessive force to apprehend a suspect who was seriously injured during an arrest in Brampton earlier this year, the province’s police watchdog says.
In a report released Monday, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) concluded that there was no reasonable grounds to charge an officer who caused serious injuries to a suspect during an arrest on Jan. 7, 2023.
On that morning, the SIU said, officers were called to a car wash at 9499 Airport Road for reports of a “suspicious vehicle” on the grounds of the business.
The vehicle, according to the SIU, was parked beside an outdoor vacuum island and a male was “apparently sleeping in the driver’s seat.”
Officers discovered that the vehicle, a Cadillac SUV, had been reported stolen. When police arrived on scene, three cruisers proceeded to block in the Cadillac, preventing the driver from fleeing.
The male suspect, the SIU said, awoke and discovered that the police had surrounded him.
“He immediately started the Cadillac and attempted to free himself from the blockade,” the SIU report read.
The male drove “forward and backward, striking the police cruisers in front and behind the SUV,” according to the report.
One officer used a baton to strike the driver’s side window several times, causing the glass to partially collapse inward.
The subject officer, who was standing next to the driver’s side door, discharged a conducted energy weapon (CEW) at the suspect inside the vehicle. The officer also repeatedly jabbed the suspect with the baton he was holding in his other hand, the report read.
In footage reviewed by the SIU from body-worn cameras, the suspect could be heard yelling “You got my eye,” and “My jaw’s broken.” The subject officer could also be heard telling the suspect to “Get the f*** out of the car.”
The suspect was “subjected to additional CEW discharges by other officers” before he was eventually removed from the SUV.
He was transported to hospital with serious facial fractures and the SIU, which is called in to investigate any interaction between police and a civilian that results in serious injury, death, or allegations of sexual assault, invoked its mandate.
“While approaching the line, in my view, the quantum of force used by the (subject officer) fell short of being excessive,” the SIU report read.
According to the report, the use of the first of second baton strikes were reasonable given the fact that the CEWs had been “ineffective” at subduing the suspect.
“More doubtful is the propriety of repeatedly striking the Complainant while telling him to get out of the vehicle,” the report read.
“The Cadillac’s front door was effectively pinned shut at the time by a cruiser and it is unclear how exactly the Complainant was to remove himself, particularly as he was being continually struck.”
Another concern, the report notes, was the “use of profanity” by the subject officer.
“While I appreciate that allowance must be made for the ‘human-factor’ in these types of situations, the nature and extent of the foul language used by the (subject officer) suggests an officer whose force was potentially motivated by anger or retribution rather than an assessment of what was reasonably necessary at the time,” the report stated.
“That said, I am mindful of the common law principle that police officers engaged in volatile and dangerous situations are not expected to measure their use of force to a nicety; what is required is a reasonable response, not an exacting one.”
As was his legal right, the subject officer did not hand over his notes to the SIU and was not interviewed as part of the investigation, the SIU said.
“While I accept that the Complainant’s facial fractures were very likely caused by the force used by the (subject officer), I am not reasonably satisfied that they are attributable to unlawful force on the part of the officer,” the report concluded.
“As such, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case.”