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Sault police cleared in incident in which senior fractured a finger

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit headquarters in Mississauga, Ont.. (Colin Perkel / THE CANADIAN PRESS) Ontario's Special Investigations Unit headquarters in Mississauga, Ont.. (Colin Perkel / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
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Sault police did nothing wrong when a senior in a mental health crisis fractured his finger, Ontario’s police watchdog has concluded.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) looked into the incident, which took place Jan. 5 when health-care workers visited the 78-year-old man’s home in the area of Wellington and North streets.

The workers “had concerns as the complainant was increasingly displaying violent behaviour. When they arrived, the complainant punched one of the workers in the face,” the SIU said in its report.

Police arrived accompanied by a crisis worker and attempted to deal with the situation.

“They interacted with the complainant,” the SIU said.

“When he shook hands with one of the police officers, he became aggressive and attempted to arm wrestle and punch the officer.”

He was wrestled to the ground until he calmed down, but once he stood up again, he grabbed a chair.

He was taken into custody and later complained he had a sore finger, which was diagnosed as a fracture.

SIU director Joseph Martino said it was clear there were grounds to arrest the senior.

“The complainant, though elderly, was quite strong on the evidence of the officers and (a civilian witness),” Martino said.

“He had initiated a physical engagement with (police) and resisted arrest. The officers were, in the circumstances, entitled to resort to a measure of force to take the complainant into custody.”

The senior was taken to the ground, but not punched or attacked in any way.

“There is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case,” he said.

“The file is closed.”

Read the full incident narrative here.

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