Hamilton

Hamilton police: We don't issue 'assault gloves' to frontline officers

The reinforced gloves made by Oakley are raising questions across Ontario in the wake of a CBC News investigation into their use after the death of an Ottawa man last year.

Special gloves with carbon fibre plate 'not approved for use' in Hamilton, police say

Ottawa police Const. Daniel Montsion is facing charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in the July 2016 death of Abdirahman Abdi. (CBC)

Hamilton police said Tuesday they don't issue so-called "assault gloves" to frontline officers and the gloves are "not approved for use" for officers.

The reinforced gloves made by Oakley are raising questions across Ontario in the wake of a CBC News investigation into their use after the death of an Ottawa man last year.

"I can say that the hard carbon fibre-plated gloves ... are not gloves issued by the Hamilton Police Service," said Hamilton police Const. Stephen Welton. "Nor is any member of the Hamilton Police Service authorized to use those gloves in the course of their duties."

Marie-France Lalonde, Ontario's minister of Correctional Services and Community Safety, called Monday for a province-wide review of whether the gloves are being used and whether they should be regulated as an official weapon for police officers.

Welton said the service will "comply with all laws and legislation proposed by the Minister."

But he said he did not know whether the Hamilton service would conduct its own review.

"I can't confirm that the Hamilton Police Service has received direction to conduct any reviews of any kind," he said. "Perhaps that direction is coming and if so and if required the Hamilton Police Service would comply as we would with other requirements set out."

If an officer is found to be using the gloves on his or her own, Welton said that officer would be told to stop. Wearing gloves without authorization could be a liability issue, he said.

Marie-France Lalonde, Ontario's Minister in charge of law enforcement agencies called Monday for a province-wide review of so-called assault gloves after a CBC News investigation linked their use to the death of an Ottawa man last summer. (CBC)

Gloves are central to Ottawa police assault-with-weapon charge

Const. Daniel Montsion is an Ottawa police officer charged last week with manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

A police source close to the investigation told CBC Ottawa the gloves are central to Montsion's assault with a weapon charge. 

Last summer, Abdirahman Abdi lost consciousness after a confrontation with Montsion and another officer who were trying to arrest him for allegedly groping people inside a coffee shop. 

He was pronounced dead in hospital the following day.

Montsion had been wearing a pair of Oakley Standard Issue "assault gloves." The gloves feature carbon-fibre plating in the knuckles and fingers. 

What gloves are allowed in Hamilton?

In Hamilton, police said officers may wear "winter style leather patrol gloves" or bicycle gloves on duty.

Two units have specialty gloves, Welton said. The "public order unit" and "emergency response unit" have gloves with a rubber covering over the knuckles "to provide protection against impact" and padded fingertips.

"These gloves are not a hard shell or carbon fibre plating like that of the mentioned and referenced 'assault gloves,'" Welton said.

Somali-Canadian Abdirahman Abdi, 37, died after an violent altercation with police in Ottawa's Hintonburg neighbourhood in July 2016. (Supplied photo/Idil Mussa)

"Some leather gloves may also have a woven in Kevlar lining that is designed to help protect police officers against punctures and other sharp objects that they may be exposed to or come across in the execution of their duties," Welton said.

That could include needles or knives as officers search suspects. 

kelly.bennett@cbc.ca

With files from CBC Ottawa

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