Video shows OPP officer putting hand around woman’s neck, pushing her back against holding cell in Orillia
Published Tuesday, November 28, 2023 5:17PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 28, 2023 5:17PM EST
Newly released security video in the case of an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) constable convicted of assaulting a 43-year-old woman inside a holding cell in Orillia in 2019 shows the moment when the officer put her hands around the victim's throat and pushed her back against jail bars.
The more than eight-minute video has no audio and begins with a handcuffed Shannon Hoffman being brought inside the facility. She was arrested outside the Studabakers Beachside restaurant in Orillia on Sept. 7, 2019, for public intoxication.
After her handcuffs are removed, Hoffman starts removing her jewelry with Const. Bailey Nicholls is watching on. One minute passes and Hoffman has yet to take them all off. During the trial, the judge decided the video showed the officer's increasing frustration with Hoffman's struggle to remove her necklace.
In the video, the two are seen exchanging words before Nicholls steps in, grabs Hoffman's necklace and removes it. Hoffman appears to be upset by the officer's actions as the two are then seen arguing.
As she speaks, Hoffman raises her hands, and Nicholls grabs it and tries to remove a ring on her finger. When Hoffman attempts to pull out her hand, Nicholls is seen putting her hand around Hoffman's neck, pushing her back against the jail bars. The constable had Hoffman pinned for about four seconds before she was able to break free. Another OPP officer comes in to intervene.
Hoffman is later placed inside the cell and continually checks the back of her head. The two officers return and give her a tissue, which she presses on her head.
The video later reveals a blood-soaked tissue. Paramedics show up a few moments later to check on Hoffman.
She had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for a cut in her head, which needed to be stapled five times.
The Special Investigations Unit, the province's police watchdog, looked into the incident and charged Nicholls.
During the trial, the judge found Nicholls' explanation of what occurred as "disingenuous and unsatisfactory" and said, "I am troubled by P.C. Nicholls' refusal to acknowledge what is plainly seen in the cell video."
The constable, who has been with the OPP for eight years, was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm last month.
The OPP Association said it fully supports Nicholls, who is on an unrelated leave, despite the "very disappointing" decision.
“We believed that the evidence, including the video released today, would result in the acquittal of PC Nicholls," the OPPA said in a statement.
"We have viewed the video. It is our position that force used in the circumstances was minimal, appropriate, and commiserate in the full circumstances of the incident."
The OPPA added that the full interaction that led to the officer's actions was not captured in the video.
"We believe that while a reasonable member of the public viewing the video may not accept the officer’s use of force they would be left wondering how that interaction resulted in the injury and a conviction for ‘assault cause bodily harm’," the group said.
The OPPA noted it is reviewing the judge's decision and will determine if an appeal is necessary.
With files from CTV News Barrie’s Mike Arsalides