Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux says "a misguided attempt at humour" resulted in his Canada Day arrest in Ottawa, according to a statement released Thursday on his team's website.
Giroux spent Tuesday night locked up at an Ottawa police station after an altercation with a male police officer in the ByWard Market in Ottawa.
Witnesses said Giroux "mocked" the officer and grabbed his buttocks three times, while also swearing at the officer. Giroux was arrested but he was not charged.
On Thursday, Giroux commented publicly for the first time.
“I regret my actions on Canada Day and sincerely apologize to my fans, teammates and the Philadelphia Flyers organization for my misguided attempt at humour," a statement read.
"Following an investigation, law enforcement determined that charges are not warranted. I have the utmost respect for law enforcement and apologize to the Ottawa police department and specifically the individual officer. I will be making no further public comment on this matter.
"I will not be distracted from my ongoing preparation for the upcoming season. I remain 100 per cent committed and focused on working with my team to return the Stanley Cup to Philadelphia," according to the statement.
The team also released their own short statement on the arrest through general manager Ron Hextall.
"We’ve been in contact with Claude and the Ottawa Police Service and have been informed that no charges will be filed. Moving forward, we will deal with this incident internally and we will no longer publicly discuss this matter," wrote Hextall.
Police insist no preferential treatment
Police said they did not give preferential treatment to Giroux when they contacted his employer after his arrest.
Ottawa police had not commented publicly on the case because no charges were laid. But police records inadvertently released to the media revealed police called the Flyers and spoke to the director of communications and Hextall.
Police told the team they were sticking to the media line they would not confirm or deny the subject unless charges are laid. The Flyers were also advised no charges were forthcoming.
Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau said talking to employers of people arrested is something police do on "a regular basis."
"It's a professional thing we did," said Bordeleau. "We do this on a regular basis with school boards and other institutions where that public attention may be drawn upon them and we want to make sure we have open lines of communication between ourselves and the impacted organization."
'Unusual' police activity
Carleton University criminologist Darryl Davies disagrees, saying it is unusual for police to call an employer when there's an arrest.
"How many people who have been picked up who are drug addicts or alcoholics have they done it with?" said Davies. "I think that's the bottom line. The law must apply equally to all classes of persons regardless of who they are or what position they occupy."
Davies said police do have discretion — but when there's a high-profile person involved — transparency is key.
"I think the police have to be above-board and open and transparent so we can look at the way they handle it and say it was handled fairly and nobody got any special treatment."
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario would not comment on this specific case. It released a statement, though.
"Police should not disclose personal information about their interactions with individuals to the individual’s employer, unless the person consents to the disclosure, or there is a valid law enforcement investigation purpose, or public safety purpose, for the disclosure. If any individual believes that police have inappropriately disclosed their personal information, they can make a privacy complaint to our office," the statement read.