SIU clears police in case where man broke clavicle during arrest in North Bay
The special unit that investigates police in Ontario has cleared officers with the Ontario Provincial Police who broke a suspect's clavicle during a March 30 arrest in North Bay. (File)
SUDBURY -- The special unit that investigates police in Ontario has cleared officers with the Ontario Provincial Police who broke a suspect's clavicle during a March 30 arrest in North Bay.
In a news release Thursday, Joseph Martino, director of the Special Investigations Unit, released a report describing how the man was injured and ruling police acted reasonably when they tackled the man.
The morning of the arrest, police were armed with a search warrant that had an extended time limit because police were concerned the suspect had a handgun, Martino writes in his report, and so wanted time to carefully plan the arrest to avoid problems.
"The officers, in plainclothes and unmarked vehicles, staked out the area," the report said. "It was their plan to arrest the complainant once he stepped out of the house. While many persons came and went, in what the officers presumed to be drug transactions within the home, the complainant was not seen leaving the residence until later in the day."
Tackled him as he left
He finally emerged around 6:30 p.m. accompanied by a woman, leaving the Percy Street home and headed east on Cassells Street.
"As the complainant did so, he was observed by undercover officers," the report said. "The team’s supervisor … called for the complainant’s arrest as he crossed 6th Avenue West."
Police surrounded him and tackled him to make the arrest.
"Following a brief struggle on the ground, the complainant was handcuffed and taken into custody by the officers," the report said. "A search of the complainant’s person at the scene revealed he was in possession of controlled substances."
The next morning, after spending the night in jail at the OPP’s North Bay detachment, the suspect was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a broken clavicle.
In his analysis, Martino wrote that under the circumstance, police were justified in tackling the man, regardless of whether he tried to run away.
"In the moments leading to the takedown, the complainant had not given the officers any overt reason to believe that his arrest would be violent or contentious," the report said. "Arguably, his takedown in the circumstances may appear precipitous and heavy-handed."
Suspected to have a handgun
However, the fact the suspect might have had a handgun – the reason police had staked out the residence all day rather than trying to arrest him inside – justifies the arrest, the report said.
"The officers had reason to believe that the complainant was in possession of a handgun," the report said. "Considered in this context, the officers were within their rights in seeking to immediately neutralize that threat by taking the complainant to the ground as quickly as possible.
"While the complainant’s fall to the ground in the course of his arrest was the likely cause of his injury, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the officers acted other than lawfully throughout this incident. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case and the file is closed."