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SIU finds no wrongdoing by Peterborough County OPP after man seriously injured during arrest

The Special Investigations Unit says there was no wrongdoing by Peterborough County OPP during an arrest of a man in May 2020 who suffered an injury. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

The province’s Special Investigations Unit says there was no wrongdoing by police after a man was injured during an arrest in Peterborough County in May 2020.

In his report released on Friday, SIU director Joseph Martino says on May 26, 2020, at around 2:45 p.m., officers stopped a vehicle to arrest one of two occupants in relation to a stolen property investigation. Martino said two males had fled in the vehicle after officers had arrived at a Selwyn Township home to execute a search warrant as part of the investigation.

A short vehicle pursuit ensued until the vehicle was stopped at County Road 4 near Television Road, just northeast of Peterborough.

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The SIU says a struggle ensued during the course of the arrest. Martino says a 39-year-old man, while handcuffed, fled on foot but was chased and brought to the ground.

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Martino says the man was “seriously injured” and taken to Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) where he was diagnosed with two fractured ribs on his left side. The other occupant was arrested without incident.

The SIU was notified of the incident. Investigators interviewed three witness officers and two civilians. The subject officer declined to be interviewed or provide his notes, as was the officer’s legal right, Martino said.

Martino said that based on the evidence, one of the witness officers tackled the complainant to the ground and then the subject officer kneed him in the back as the man “thrashed on ground” for a period before he subdued and lifted to his feet.

“It seems to me that the tackle was a tactic reasonably available to witness officer No. 1 in the circumstances,” Martino concluded. “The complainant had already made clear his intention of resisting arrest and was by then in full flight attempting to escape police apprehension.”

Read more: 2 Belleville police officers facing assault causing bodily harm charges: SIU

However, Martino said it was “more difficult to justify” the use of force by the subject officer since the man’s hands were handcuffed behind his back.

“That said, I accept that the complainant was vigorously struggling with the officers while prone on the ground despite being handcuffed, and that the officers were within their rights in responding with a measure of force to promptly bring him under control,” Martino concluded.

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“Considered in context, while perhaps at the upper end of what was appropriate force, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the subject officer’s conduct fell within the range of what was reasonably necessary force in the circumstances.”

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