Watchdog probes Toronto mounted officer, Vancouver police over Ottawa incidents

Click to play video: 'RAW VIDEO: Mounted unit moves through protesters in Ottawa'
RAW VIDEO: Mounted unit moves through protesters in Ottawa
The Mounted Public Order Unit rides through a crowd of police and protesters in Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022. Ontario's civilian police watchdog is investigating the incident, as well as the use of less-lethal projectile weapons by members of the Vancouver Police Department. – Feb 20, 2022

Ontario’s civilian police watchdog is probing incidents involving Vancouver police and a horse-mounted officer with the Toronto police over incidents during enforcement at the Ottawa COVID-19 mandate protests.

In a media release Saturday, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said a 49-year-old woman had reported a “serious injury” following an “interaction” with a horse-mounted Toronto Police Service officer at Rideau Street and Mackenzie Avenue on Friday.

The SIU said that the injury had not been confirmed, and that it was interviewing the complainant and investigating the circumstances of the interaction.

Footage of the horse unit allegedly “trampling” a woman went viral this weekend including a false report that the woman had died, shared by a Fox News contributor with 1.3 million Twitter followers.

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The SIU stressed that reports anyone had died were false.

Click to play video: 'Trucker protests: Ottawa police respond to incident involving horse-mounted units'
Trucker protests: Ottawa police respond to incident involving horse-mounted units

Ottawa interim police chief Steve Bell told reporters Saturday the Mounted Public Order Unit had ridden between a line of officers and what he described as increasingly aggressive protesters to create space.

“There was two members of the public who collided with the horses. They fell down, they immediately got back up, and started to again engage in their protest and demonstration activity,” Bell said.

The second incident under investigation, involving members of the Vancouver Police Department, took place just before 7:20 p.m. in the area of Sparks and Bank streets, according to the SIU.

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Several Vancouver police officers allegedly discharged Anti-Riot Weapon Enfields multiple times, according to the SIU.

A spokesperson for the watchdog described the Enfields as “less-lethal” firearms that can fire a variety of projectiles, including rubber and plastic bullets.

The SIU could not provide details on the circumstances under which the weapons were fired.

The SIU said no injuries had been reported. However, unlike British Columbia’s civilian police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office, Ontario’s SIU is mandated to investigate all firearm discharges, including less-lethal weapons.

Anyone who was hit by one of the projectiles is being asked to contact the SIU.

Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer has confirmed members of the department’s Public Safety Unit were deployed to Ottawa, and sources say at least 21 officers had flown to the capital on Thursday.

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