An Ontario police watchdog says it has found evidence of discreditable conduct and excessive force after Toronto officers threatened to seize a man’s cellphone as he filmed police Tasering a prone suspect.
The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) launched an investigation after Waseem Khan filmed part of an assault suspect’s arrest in January. The male suspect was wanted after police said they received a report that he spat on a staff member at a nearby homeless shelter. A female officer later found the man and he then allegedly spat on her and punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground, police previously said.
The video, which showed the arrest after the two alleged incidents, appeared to show an officer – later identified as Sgt. Eduardo Miranda – Tasering and planting his foot on the male suspect as he yelled, “Stop resisting,” before two other officers threatened to seize Khan’s phone. Miranda told fellow officers, “Get that guy out of my face, please,” while pointing at Khan, who was standing on a sidewalk, a short distance away from police.
Khan subsequently filed a complaint about the incident with the OIPRD. The agency sent a summary letter to Khan on July 21, which Khan provided to Global News, that said two allegations of unlawful exercising of authority and discreditable conduct have been “substantiated” as “serious.”
“Sergeant (Eduardo) Miranda used excessive force against the affected person,” director Gerry McNeilly wrote, referring to the arrest of the suspect.
He also said Miranda “improperly directed” a constable to “interfere with your lawful presence in the area of the incident and with your lawful recording of the incident.” McNeilly said that direction brought “discredit on the reputation of the Toronto Police Service.”
McNeilly also “substantiated” two other allegations as “less serious.”
In his letter, McNeilly said the two constables who made the statements on camera toward Khan “brought discredit” to the police service. On camera, a male officer could be heard on camera saying, “[The suspect]’s going to spit in your face, you’re going to get AIDS. Stop recording or I’m going to seize your phone as evidence and then you’re going to lose your phone.” A female officer also threatened to seize the phone.
WATCH: Toronto police threatened to seize phone of a witness who recorded officers making arrest. (Jan. 24)
McNeilly also said Miranda and five constables “failed to activate the in-car camera system microphones” after arriving “contrary to police orders,” which he called neglect of duty.
In an interview with Global News Thursday evening, McNeilly said he personally reviewed the complaint.
“I determined that given the contents of the complaint, and also being aware and having seen the video on TV that everybody else saw … it met my threshold for the matter to be investigated,” he said.
For the two allegations involving Miranda that were deemed “serious,” McNeilly said Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders is required under provincial law to hold a Toronto Police Service Tribunal hearing – which is the highest level of action he said his office can take. For the allegations deemed “less serious,” McNeilly said the officers cited will still be disciplined internally, adding if they refuse the discipline the matter will be referred to a tribunal hearing.
Global News spoke with Khan Thursday evening and he said he was satisfied with the report’s findings, but he wants action and a transparent hearing.
“It seems like they did a very thorough job … but a report is just a report. There needs to be some sort of accountability,” Khan said.
“What I hope to come from it is that if there’s issues, if there’s systemic issues in the police force, that they’re addressed and that the public can gain trust back again, or gain trust at all.”
Toronto police said in a statement that they were unable to comment on the tribunal hearings until Miranda appears.
He is scheduled to make his first appearance on Sept. 26 at Toronto police headquarters.
Global News attempted to speak with Toronto Police Association Mike McCormack in response to the findings, but he was unavailable for comment by deadline.
With files from Kayla McLean
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