Peel Regional Police will investigate an incident that involved a physical altercation between a boy and an OPP officer at a skate park in Gravenhurst, Ont., on Sunday.
Under Ontario’s current stay-at-home order, skate parks are closed, along with other outdoor amenities, such as golf courses, baseball diamonds and basketball courts.
After Sunday’s incident, a video circulated on social media that appears to show a Bracebridge OPP officer push a boy, causing him to fall on the ground.
After the altercation, a voice in the video is heard saying, “What the f*ck are you doing, bud? He’s 12 years old.”
The officer is then heard saying the boy is “failing to identify.”
On Tuesday, OPP released a statement that said officers stopped to speak with a group of young people, “none of whom were wearing masks or social distancing.”
Police say officers then tried to interact with the group, which led to a “physical confrontation” between an officer and a youth.
Brodie O’Hare, 19, was at the skate park when the physical altercation took place and was with the individual who filmed the interaction.
“There was between 11 and 14 of us there, but … there was about four to five people sitting around a bench talking amongst themselves,” O’Hare told Global News Radio 640 Toronto Monday.
“The rest of us were doing scooter tricks on our skateboard or on a bike, and these cops drove past a few times before they said anything.”
About the third or fourth time the police passed by, O’Hare said he remembers officers saying, “Masks up.”
“I think every little kid there put a mask on,” O’Hare said. “I went to my car and grabbed mine, put it on.”
According to the 19-year-old witness, OPP passed by again and didn’t say anything before they pulled in because there was a group of people standing in a circle talking.
“When these cops pulled in … a few of us kind of just escaped the group and started doing tricks again, and a few of us started talking still,” O’Hare said.
“These cops got out of their car and they approached one of the older kids and he didn’t say anything. He just denied everything and walked off the property of the skate park to his car.”
O’Hare said some kids got lippy, although the boy who was involved with the physical altercation didn’t.
“The kid that got pushed over, he wasn’t giving any lip — nothing,” O’Hare said. “He was cooperating. They even asked for his name and his phone number for his parents.”
O’Hare said the boy is OK and that there aren’t any injuries that he knows of, although he said the boy was shaken after the altercation.
“He was bawling his eyes out,” O’Hare added. “As soon as he got his scooter back from that police officer, he just went off and went straight home.”
On Tuesday, OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said he’s requested Peel Regional Police to investigate the incident.
“We understand the concerns being expressed by members of the public, and I want to assure everyone that the Ontario Provincial Police holds its members to (the) highest levels of professionalism and accountability,” Carrique said in a statement.
The OPP has reassigned the officer involved in the incident to administrative duties until the investigation is complete.
On Tuesday, David Perry, a crime and security analyst who’s the CEO of the Investigative Solutions Network and a former Toronto police officer, said he immediately thought the video looked “horrible.”
“I can’t think of a single excuse (where) that kind of behaviour or conduct by a police officer would ever be appropriate,” Perry said.
“Maybe this was the moment where this officer lost his cool or control, but never in any scenario could I see that (it) would be appropriate to push a boy to the ground like he did.”
Perry said there needs to be restorative work done because the Gravenhurst interaction will affect the entire community.
“If this is the kind of conduct that an officer is engaging in, then it’s good that it was caught on video,” he added.
“It needs to be addressed and it needs to be corrected.”
O’Hare said he never wants to see an altercation of that kind again.
“There should be no reason a cop puts their hands on a person like that, especially when he didn’t put his hands on that police officer,” the 19-year-old added.
Witnesses of the incident can contact Peel Regional Police at 905-453-3311.