SIU clears cops in teen’s injuries

(File photo by Maureen Revait, BlackburnNews.com)

Ontario’s police watchdog says there are no grounds on which to charge any London police officers in connection with the arrest of a man who suffered a fractured orbital bone when he was taken into custody.

The Special Investigations Unit released its report into the October 23, 2018 incident at a London group home. Police were called to the home that day to deal with a 17-year-old who had armed himself with a knife and threatened to use it to harm himself and others. According to the SIU report, the youth was no longer holding the knife, although the report states the responding officers were not yet aware of that.

The report says the youth yelled at and threatened the officers, and dared them to shoot him. One of the officers, who the report says was worried about the safety of the home’s staff and residents, grabbed the youth in a bear hug. His partner then wrapped his left arm around the youth’s head. According to the report, the youth struggled vigorously and all three slammed into a car that was parked in the driveway before the youth was taken to the ground in the front yard. One of the officers was bitten on the leg and reacted by punching the youth two to three times in the right side of his face. Another officer was kicked in the eye by the youth and responded with two knee strikes to the youth’s thigh.

Eventually, the youth was handcuffed. Because he was spitting at the officers, a spit mask was applied to his face before he was taken to hospital. He was diagnosed with injuries, the most serious being the fractured orbital bone.

Interim SIU Director Joseph Marino said he is satisfied that the amount of force used by the officers was justified.

“The violence that prompted the 911 call to police was still on display as the officers arrived,” he said. “Though the officers could not see a knife in the Complainant’s possession, he was wearing loose fitting clothing and they were entitled to proceed with caution lest the knife be hidden on the Complainant’s person. I find no fault with the officers’ decision to physically engage the Complainant at this time; given the Complainant’s erratic behaviour, they had legitimate cause to be concerned for the safety of the people standing on the porch in close proximity to the Complainant. ”

Martino added there was no evidence that the conduct of the officers constituted excessive use of force, and so, there is no basis for proceeding with charges.