Ontario’s police watchdog has ended an investigation into an incident involving Hamilton Police (HPS) and a 24-year-old woman who was believed to have been “seriously injured” during a demonstration at central station in November.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) examination began after HPS reported a “custody injury” at 155 King William Street days after a Nov. 26 gathering protesting the arrest of a person at a homeless encampment teardown in J.C. Beemer Park.
In a statement, director Joseph Martino said preliminary inquiries into the incident revealed the woman did not sustain a ‘serious injury’ within the mandate of the SIU.
“Consequently, as the SIU was without statutory jurisdiction to continue its investigation, the file has been closed,” said Martino.
HPS spokesperson Jackie Penman confirmed to Global News that the service had reached out to the SIU following a Nov. 29 press conference hosted by The Hamilton Encampment Support Network (HESN).
The media availability, on Ferguson Avenue North near a former homeless encampment, involved speakers who made allegations of injuries at the hands of officers during arrests tied to J.C. Beemer protests.
Several accusers told stories of how HPS officers were allegedly “callous” and assaulted them at Beemer Park and at central police station.
“As such, we notified the SIU for further investigation and they have now invoked their mandate,” Penman told Global News on Nov. 30.
HPS confirmed five arrests were made as a result of incidents during the Nov. 24 Beemer teardown.
All are accused of obstructing police, with some facing additional charges for assaulting peace officers.
The city of Hamilton dismantled encampments in city parks following a superior court judge ruling against a group of homeless residents seeking an injunction to stop the removal their setups.
Hamilton police spokesperson Jackie Penman says the service is not commenting on Martino’s decision since matters related to both the Beemer Park and police HQ incidents are before the courts.
“If there are further concerns regarding the conduct of police during the arrests, we continue to encourage the complainants to seek remedy through the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD),” Penman said in an e-mail.
Civic Inclusion head to demand inquiry into Beemer park, police HQ actions
The head of Hamilton’s Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI) says he’ll ask for a judicial inquiry into police actions tied to the J.C. Beamer Park and central station protests last November.
Kojo Damptey told Global News he was not surprised by the SIU’s move to nix it’s probe and argues it “proves” there’s a lack of proper oversight in policing.
“If you look at the history of the SIU, they hardly charged any police and officers,” Damptey told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.
“I think that’s a trend that seems a little ridiculous because the young black woman was in a boot, was in crutches for a number of weeks and is still today using a walking stick to move.”
The HCCI boss says he’ll not only be requesting charges be dropped against protestors but a probe into what he says were “some disturbing things” that happened at police headquarters on Nov. 26.
He’ll specifically touch on the physical actions of officers during the protest and what demonstrators were told by peace officers, particularly the insinuation they were on “private property.”
“It is public property, and so that’s why we need to find out exactly what happened,” Damptey said.
“As you know, the folks that were arrested, they also gave instances of violent behavior from the police officers when taking them into the police station.”
Damptey will speak before the police services board meeting set for Jan. 24.