Halton officer suspended following online video of incident involving youth: police
Video, posted to Instagram account 6ixbuzztv, appears to show officer hitting, pushing a youth
The Halton Regional Police Service says it has suspended one of its officers in connection with a video circulating online Saturday that appears to show an officer pushing and hitting a youth.
"The treatment of the youth by the officer does not fit the standards of the Halton Police under any circumstances," Oakville Mayor Rob Burton said in a tweet on Saturday.
"I deplore the unprofessional and undisciplined behaviour displayed in the video. I'm glad the Chief has suspended the officer and begun an investigation."
The video surfaced online through the popular Toronto-centric Instagram account "6ixbuzztv" on Saturday, although it is unclear who originally shot the video.
CBC Toronto has not been in contact with the civilian seen in the video.
In a statement issued Sunday, Halton police Chief Stephen Tanner acknowledged the video, saying it depicts an "altercation between members of the Halton Regional Police Service and a male party."
Tanner said police believe the incident took place in Oakville, which is about 40 kilometres southwest of Toronto.
"Immediately upon learning of this incident, the officer who made direct physical contact with the individual was suspended from duty," Tanner said in the statement.
"That is a decision that I am responsible for as your Chief of Police."
Chief 'extremely' concerned about actions of all 4 officers
In the statement, Tanner said he is "extremely" concerned about what he saw in the video, "particularly the actions of all four officers who were present at the time of the incident."
Tanner said that in accordance with the Police Services Act of Ontario, the only immediate option available to a chief of police is suspension from duty with pay.
"While police chiefs and Police Services Boards have long sought to have the option for suspension without pay, this has yet to become a reality in the new Police Services Act," he said in the statement.
"I fully understand the concerns voiced by our residents about this incident."
Calls for firing of officer
Through emails, voicemails and social media comments since Saturday, Tanner said he recognizes that many have "demanded the immediate firing of the individual involved."
"The reality is that we must ensure that we conduct a full and fair investigation, as always, and pursue charges as appropriate," he said.
Tanner said when investigating incidents like these, there are two parallel processes that could take place:
- Criminal investigation and charges, which would proceed through the normal court process.
- Police discipline, which would be a separate investigation.
Further to our statement of last evening, Chief Tanner would like to share the following message with our community. ^jh <a href="https://t.co/Zp2p95KX6U">pic.twitter.com/Zp2p95KX6U</a>—@HaltonPolice
"An officer would be served with a notice of hearing, and their employment cannot be terminated until there is a finding of guilt and ruling of termination and/or the individual resigns from the service," Tanner said.
"Unfortunately, both these processes take time depending on the circumstances; this understandably leads to frustration for many involved in the system and for those watching the process through the lens of the public."
Nonetheless, he said, they are the systems that "we must function within."