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OPP to investigate officer’s conduct following ‘violent’ downtown Barrie, Ont. arrest

Click to play video: 'Cell phone video shows ‘violent’ arrest of man in Barrie, Ont.' Cell phone video shows ‘violent’ arrest of man in Barrie, Ont.
A video is making the rounds on social media, showing a young man being held down on the ground by a Barrie, ON police officer. The Chief of the Barrie Police Service has called for an outside investigation into the video and the conduct of the Barrie police officers it captured, while the Mayor of Barrie, ON who called the arrest "violent" has promised "full accountability." – Feb 5, 2021

Warning: This story contains graphic details that some may find disturbing

The Ontario Provincial Police will independently investigate a Barrie police officer’s conduct in the arrest of a 20-year-old man that took place on Dunlop Street East in downtown Barrie on Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday, a video circulating on social media showed a Barrie police officer holding a young man down on the ground during an arrest.

“Get the f–k off of me,” the young man is heard saying to the officer. “I’m not even resisting — get off of me.”

Voices are then heard in the video, telling the young man to “stop resisting” while an officer is still holding him down. The video then appears to show the officer holding an electric stun gun and hitting the man.

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Read more: Mother of teen says ‘violent’ Toronto police arrest has ‘traumatized’ her son

A man wearing a CBC jacket was also seen in videos walking up to where the man was held to the ground before grabbing his legs for several seconds.

Close to the end of the video, another officer is seen running over and flipping the young man over with the initial officer.

It’s unclear the exact events that led up to the incident.

“The images captured in the video are concerning to both the public and myself,” said Barrie police chief Kimberley Greenwood in a statement.

“I acknowledge the public’s concerns being expressed based on the limited availability of information at this time. I want to assure the community that any findings of misconduct will be pursued.”

Click to play video: 'OPP will lead investigation into conduct of Barrie police officer after ‘violent’ arrest' OPP will lead investigation into conduct of Barrie police officer after ‘violent’ arrest
OPP will lead investigation into conduct of Barrie police officer after ‘violent’ arrest – Feb 5, 2021

The Barrie Police Service said the officer involved with the arrest has been reassigned to alternate duties pending the outcome of the investigation.

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The 20-year-old man who was arrested was charged with causing a disturbance and assault with an attempt to resist arrest.

“I remain dedicated and supportive of our service and the continued professionalism of our members during times when our actions are questioned,” Greenwood said.

Global News contacted CBC staff to ask about the man seen in the video. It wasn’t clear what role the man has with the CBC, if he was on- or off-duty at the time of the incident, and why he was in the area at the time.

Read more: Video of arrest subject of ‘excessive force’ complaint against Calgary police

Spokesperson Chuck Thompson said the man is an employee and also serves as an OPP auxiliary volunteer.

He said the corporation learned about the incident Thursday night and that an investigation is underway.

“Beyond confirming the individual is a CBC/Radio-Canada employee and a volunteer auxiliary member of the OPP, we won’t say anything more until we have thoroughly reviewed all aspects of the matter,” Thompson wrote in a brief statement Friday evening.

An OPP spokesperson also confirmed the man serves as a volunteer with the OPP, but didn’t elaborate on his duties in that capacity.

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On Thursday, Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman said he’s seen the videos of the “violent arrest” in downtown Barrie and that the situation will be “fully investigated.”

“I won’t be ignoring this, and once we have all the details, there will be full accountability,” Lehman said.

On Thursday, Barrie Ward 2 Coun. Keenan Aylwin said he’s “deeply saddened and disturbed by the violence in the video.”

“While I don’t have all the information and the investigation hasn’t been completed, there are several things in that video that are unacceptable,” Aylwin said on Twitter.

“There must be accountability for the officer who perpetrated the violence and for the others who stood by and let it continue.”

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The Barrie Police Service was notified of the videos circulating on social media at about 3 p.m. Thursday.

The OPP’s professional standards unit is conducting the investigation into the arrest. Witnesses are asked to contact OPP at 1-888-310-1122.

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