Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared Guelph police of any wrongdoing in a May 2016 arrest that left a man with broken ribs, but says the two officers under investigation overreacted.
“On the whole, this appears to be a complete overreaction to the situation, akin to swatting a fly with a sledgehammer,” SIU director Tony Loparco wrote in his decision that was released Tuesday.
But he said there was no reasonable grounds to lay charges against the officers.
The incident happened on May 23, 2016, while the two officers were investigating a domestic dispute and were questioning the man at his apartment in Guelph.
Police described the man as intoxicated, his eyes bloodshot, and he became very loud and used profanities when officers explained why they were there.
One officer testified that once the conversation had ended, the two began to walk away, but had noticed the man was following them.
The two officers then tried to arrest the man for being “intoxicated in a common area,” but he began to struggle, according to testimony.
“Once on the ground, the Complainant had both hands under his body and appeared to ignore commands from both officers to put his hands behind his back,” Loparco wrote in his report. “(The officer) advised that he then delivered a strike with his right hand to the left side of the Complainant’s body, using his knuckles and the back of the hand.”
According to the officers, there was about another minute of struggling before they managed to get the suspect into custody.
Loparco did call it “troubling” that the man was even arrested in the first place.
“It is surprising to me that officers, rather than simply issuing the Complainant with a ticket pursuant to the Liquor Licence Act, felt a need to place the Complainant under arrest, handcuff him and transport him to the station,” Loparco said.
Despite that overreaction, Loparco said both officers were legally justified, but called the arrest a hasty decision.
“(The officer) was entitled to use reasonable force to get the Complainant to comply with the demand to give up his hands for handcuffing during the course of a legal (however imprudent) arrest,” Loparco said.
CJOY News has reached out to the Guelph Police Service and is awaiting comment.