No charges for officer who struck man with cruiser during arrest in Toronto: police watchdog

Click to play video: 'Ontario police watchdog probing arrest of Toronto robbery suspect' Ontario police watchdog probing arrest of Toronto robbery suspect
WATCH ABOVE: (April 12, 2020) Videos posted on social media appeared to show the dramatic arrest of a suspect allegedly wanted for a knife-point robbery in downtown Toronto. In one of the videos, a cruiser can be seen driving over a person. Police blocked off an area where the arrest occurred as Ontario's police watchdog said it was probing the incident – Apr 12, 2020

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says there are “no reasonable grounds” to charge a police officer who struck a man with a cruiser during an arrest in Toronto last year.

The SIU said in a news release that the incident happened on the evening of April 12, 2020, when officers were called to the area of King and Bathurst streets for reports of a robbery.

A man had reportedly attacked a person and was trying to steal a bike while brandishing a knife.

Read more: Video appears to show Toronto police cruiser running over suspect reportedly carrying knife

“Officers located the 28-year-old man and attempted to communicate with him,” the news release said.

“The man continued to walk as officers followed.”

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Officers used tasers “on repeated occasions” in a bid to incapacitate the man and take away the knife, but “to no avail,” the SIU said.

Discharges of pepper spray were also used.

SIU director Joseph Martino wrote in his report on the incident that the tasers were hampered by a thick jacket that the man was wearing and the pepper spray was stymied by wind.

The police watchdog also reported that officers used vehicles in an attempt to stop him and when the man got to Front Street, an officer drove up behind him and used the driver’s side front of the cruiser to hit him, causing him to fall to the ground. The SIU report said the man was run over by the left front wheel.

The knife came out of the man’s hand and he was then arrested, the report said.

Martino said there “are no reasonable grounds to believe that the [officer who struck the suspect] committed a criminal offence.”
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The man reportedly suffered fractures to his right wrist and foot.

Martino wrote in the report that he believes that “some if not all” of the suspect’s injuries were a result of the subject officer’s actions.

However, Martino said the officer believed the suspect posed a danger and because previous attempts to stop him didn’t work, the officer’s actions were reasonable.

“It should be noted finally that the [officer], cognizant of the risk of serious injury, approached and struck the complainant at low speed; about 10 km/h, according to the officer,” Martino said.
Click to play video: 'Video appears to show Toronto police cruiser running over suspect' Video appears to show Toronto police cruiser running over suspect
Video appears to show Toronto police cruiser running over suspect – Apr 13, 2020

Videos appearing to show the incident were posted online shortly after it occurred.

In one video, a man appears to be holding a knife as he walks around a police cruiser on the street. Approximately a dozen officers could be seen a short distance away from the suspect, following him. At one point a responding cruiser bumps into the suspect before he moves out of frame.

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A second video posted on Twitter taken from a distance appears to show the suspect slowly running east along Front Street West when a cruiser, surrounded by officers on foot, drives into the suspect and pushes the man several feet before running over him. Officers could then be seen standing over the man. The Twitter user later deleted the video.

The SIU is an independent agency that investigates incidents involving police that have resulted in death, serious injury or alleged sexual assault.

The full SIU report can be found here.

— With files from Nick Westoll

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