Sudbury

OIPRD report substantiates allegations of misconduct against Sault Ste Marie police officer

The office of the Independent Police Review Director has investigated the arrest of Tim Mitchell in March, 2016

Incident happened in March 2016

(Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director has investigated  the actions of a Sault Ste Marie police officer during the arrest of a man in March of 2016.

In a report, it says that three allegations of misconduct under the Police Services Act have been substantiated. According to Joel Dubois, a lawyer acting for the Chief of Sault Ste Marie Police, this does not mean a finding of guilt, but rather that a hearing date must be set.

The allegations include unlawful or unnecessary use of force, discreditable conduct and neglect of duty.

The allegations stem from an incident in March 2016 in which Constable Matthew Keating was responding to a call from Tim Mitchell's son.

Keating says he observed that Mitchell had breached a recognizance to abstain from alcohol

Keating says that he warned Mitchell he was going to be arrested and Mitchell responded angrily, stood up and started to swear at police, ordering them to leave.

Keating said he instructed Mitchell several times to put his hands behind his back or he would be hit. Keating says he struck Mitchell in the left rib area with a closed fist. Another officer was eventually able to put handcuffs on Mitchell and he was taken to the police station.

Mtichell complained of pain in his side and was taken to hospital where he was not diagnosed with any broken bones.

He was eventually found to have broken ribs and due to medical complications led to him being in a coma.

Later that year, Keating was cleared of excessive use of force by the Special Investigations Unit. That agency investigates incidents involving police where there has been a death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

In 2018, a judge reviewed the evidence and dropped charges against Mitchell, finding unlawful force was used and that his Charter right to a lawyer was violated.

Mitchell is also suing the Sault Police Services Board for $6.5 million in compensation.

Corrections

  • CORRECTION: An earlier story stated that Constable Keating had been found guilty of three charges under the Police Services Act. In fact, a report from the Office of the Independent Police Review Director substantiates three allegations of misconduct against the officer. However there's been no finding of guilt.
    Jan 14, 2019 7:43 PM ET

With files from Kate Rutherford