Hamilton police officer cleared by SIU in spine-fracture case

The investigation found the complainant was responsible for his own injuries: three spinal fractures.

The police Special Investigations Unit says it has found no reason to charge a Hamilton officer after a 23-year-old man suffered three spinal fractures last year.

The SIU — an arm’s length agency that steps in to investigate when police are involved in a death or serious injury — dedicated six investigators to get to the bottom of the November 2012 incident .

According to the SIU's investigation, on the evening of Nov. 17, two Hamilton police officers were filling out reports in a parked, marked police vehicle in the parking lot of the Ryerson Recreation Centre on Duke St. When a car started to pull into the parking lot and then immediately turned around and drove off, the officers were suspicious and decided to follow.

The car pulled into the lot of an apartment building at 265 Duke St., the SIU said, and the 23-year-old driver got out and started running.

One of the officers got out of the car and started searching the area. The officer found the man lying on the ground, complaining of back pain. The man had lept over a fence, not realizing there was a 6.5-metre drop on the other side.

Police took him to hospital where he was treated for three fractures to his spine.

It turned out the man may have been in breach of a court-imposed curfew.

"In my view, the subject officer did nothing wrong in these circumstances," Ian Scott, director of the SIU, said in a release Friday. "He has a duty to investigate crime, and the man had engaged in suspicious behaviour.

"Although the complainant unfortunately sustained a very serious injury when he fell 6.5 metres in an attempt to elude the police, he was the author of his own misfortune."

The SIU would not reveal the names of the injured man or the officers involved, as they only release names if charges are laid.