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SIU clears Peterborough police officer after man breaks finger around time of arrest

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit has cleared a Peterborough Police Service of any wrongdoing after a man reportedly suffered a broken finger in or around the time of his arrest in March 2023. Global News

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit says a Peterborough police officer is not at fault after a man suffered a broken finger in or around the time of his arrest for public intoxication in March.

The SIU launched an investigation following an incident early on March 19. SIU director Joseph Martino reports that around 2 a.m. a Peterborough Police Service officer noticed a man being detained by several security staff outside a business in the area of George Street North.

The officer assisted and attempted to arrest a 24-year-old man for public intoxication. Martino says the suspect spat in the face of one security guard and continued to resist arrest until he was handcuffed with his hands behind his back.

The SIU says the man was placed into a police cruiser but stuck his legs out to impede the door being closed.

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At the police station, the man complained of having sore legs. He was transported to hospital by paramedics, where a doctor diagnosed him not with a leg injury but with a fractured right forefinger. Police notified the SIU about the injury.

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The SIU investigates any incident involving police that results in serious injury, death or allegations of sexual assault or when an officer discharges a firearm at a person.

Investigators learned the man had been involved in a fight inside the business prior to police involvement. The SIU say a witness later reported the suspect had punched another patron.

Martino notes the man and subject officer both declined to be interviewed for the investigation, however, the officer did provide investigators with his notes. The security guard who was spat on also declined to press charges, Martino said.

Martino said based on the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe the officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the arrest and the injury. He said the use of force — with “no strikes of any kind” — to arrest the man was “legally justified” since he resisted arrest by keeping his hands gripped together to prevent the application of handcuffs.

“The subject officer was in the lawful execution of his duty when he intervened to assist the security guards with a clearly intoxicated and belligerent complainant,” Martino concluded. “In light of his violent behaviour, I am satisfied the complainant was subject to arrest for public intoxication under section 31 of the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019. The complainant further spat at one of the security guards during the struggle, rendering him also subject to arrest for assault.

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“It remains unclear when and how the complainant incurred his injury. It might well have been inflicted when he punched another patron of the business prior to his encounter with the security guards and the officer. In any event, as there are no reasonable grounds to conclude that the subject officer comported himself unlawfully in his dealings with the complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case. The file is closed.”

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