TORONTO – A video has surfaced of an arrest by a Toronto police officer that drew an angry crowd outside a LCBO location last week.
Police said a paid-duty officer was working at the liquor store near Jane Street and Wilson Avenue on Nov. 27 when he noticed a man behaving erratically around 4 p.m.
“He kept his hands in his pockets. He was striding back and forth. The police officer asked him to take his hands out of his pockets. He refused,” said Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash.
“This is the sort of behaviour that can be indicative of a much larger problem and the officer was trying to prevent something serious from happening.”
After the man refused to show his identification, police said he was denied entry into the store and the officer issued him a trespassing notice.
It is alleged the man then took a swing at the officer, hit him, and a struggled ensued as he was being arrested.
“So the arrest was for the assault and then subsequently we see a very, very concerning situation where we have a number of people who were there actively obstructing the police officer as he’s going about his lawful job,” said Pugash.
A 16-minute video of the incident was posted on Facebook by a Hamilton-area man who claims the arrest was a result of the officer having a “power trip.”
“The officer was punching the gentleman and tackled him down aggressively with his knees on his neck,” wrote Ajith Thala in the Facebook post.
Police said the officer was under enormous provocation and that he was also being baited by the crowd.
“He was subject to great, great pressure and I think to his great credit, he displayed significant restraint under the circumstances,” Pugash said.
“He was being screamed at. He was being obstructed. You could see people trying to free the prisoner. That’s a very dangerous thing to try to do.”
Police were able to arrest the individual after several other officers arrived on scene.
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“When other officers showed up, it enabled him to continue what he was doing, which was to take his prisoner away,” said Pugash.
Pugash said the situation could have turned out differently had the officer not acted the way he did.
“To anyone who saw that, that would strike them as very concerning. You had people who were actively obstructing the officer. You had people, as far as I could tell, were trying to free the prisoner,” he said.
Police said the suspect in the video is a 25-year-old man of no fixed address. He is facing charges of resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.
On Wednesday afternoon, police confirmed they had arrested and charged 42-year-old Andrew Burger, who was allegedly in the video wearing a Toronto Blue Jays jacket, with obstructing a peace officer in connection with the incident.
With files from Adam Miller and The Canadian Press