SIU clears Peterborough County OPP officer after man injured during arrest
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit has cleared a Peterborough County OPP officer of any wrongdoing after a man sustained an injury during an arrest last year.
On Friday, the SIU released its findings following an investigation into an April 28, 2018 incident in which officers stopped a vehicle on Summerhill Drive just west of Chemong Road in Peterborough around 2:30 a.m. for a possible impaired driver.
In his report, SIU acting director Joseph Martino says the driver was arrested for impaired driving and a 32-year-old male passenger was also arrested for public intoxication.
During the interaction, Martino said the passenger began to handle property seized from the driver, which was on the hood of the vehicle, and officers allegedly ordered him to stop. However, the man refused and “became belligerent,” the report states.
An officer arrested him for public intoxication and obstruction, and the report states that in the process, the officer took him to the ground, where he sustained an eye injury that was later diagnosed as a fractured orbital bone.
Martino says no CCTV cameras were located in the area, and there were no civilian witnesses in the incident.
The SIU director said the main focus of his investigation was whether the officer used excessive force in the arrest. Martino said it’s difficult to determine due to the “lack of a reliable record” of the events that transpired since the officer declined to provide a statement to the SIU or authorize the release of his notes.
“There was some evidence that the complainant was grounded by the (officer) and, while on the ground, was kneed in the left eye and punched four times to the back of the head though he offered little in the way of resistance,” Martino stated. “However, this evidence does not come from a trustworthy source and is contradicted by other evidence. As for the injury the complainant suffered, while it lends some credence to the notion that force was used against the complainant, it is of little assistance in determining whether the injury occurred as the result of the alleged grounding or knee strike.”
Martino said it “strikes (him) as implausible” that the complainant offered little, if any, resistance given his “truculent behaviour” prior to his arrest. He said he was unable to reasonably conclude that the complainant’s grounding constituted excessive force.
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