More than a year after the investigation was launched and nearly two years since the incident itself, the province’s police watchdog has found no grounds to charge a London police officer whose punches were the likely cause of a suspect’s concussion.
The Special Investigations Unit released its final report on Oct. 10.
According to the report, police received a call on Nov. 11, 2016, about a man throwing items around inside his home and onto the street and threatening neighbours and passersby.
The 23-year-old suspect, or complainant in the SIU investigation, was said to be immediately confrontational with police who arrived on scene. When he threatened to slit their throats while moving toward knives he had thrown onto the driveway, the officers decided to apprehend him.
He continued to resist and fight against police, issuing more threats and placing his feet on the cruiser as officers tried to load him in.
By the time they made it to the police station, the complainant had moved his handcuffed hands to the front of his body and removed all of his clothing except for a tank top. He was taken to an area covered by video surveillance where officers tried to reposition the handcuffs to his back.
At this time, it’s believed the complainant kneed the suspect officer in the groin. The suspect officer then hit the complainant three times, at least once in the head, before grabbing his neck and pulling him to the floor. The handcuffs were re-positioned and the complainant was then taken to a cell.
The complainant was released the next day and went to the hospital where he was diagnosed as having a concussion. A CT scan showed no abnormalities but the complainant told the SIU that he now suffers from sensitivity to light in his right eye and sometimes sees spots or flashes.
Director Tony Loparco noted in his conclusion that police actions should not be judged against a standard of perfection. Loparco notes that if the officer punched the suspect out of anger or in retaliation, that would be an excessive use of force. Yet he noted the evidence suggests that the officer reacted quickly to what he perceived as a dangerous situation to get the complainant under control.
“I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the actions resorted to by the SO (suspect officer), although not perfect, fell within the limits prescribed by the criminal law and that there are no grounds to believe that he committed a criminal offence,” Loparco wrote.