Toronto

Police won't lay charges after traffic dispute between elderly crossing guard and off-duty cop

York Regional Police say they have thoroughly investigated an incident that led to the arrest of a 70-year-old crossing guard by an off-duty police officer, and that no charges are warranted. The man's family says the arrest was a clear abuse of power.

The man's family say the arrest and physical altercation could have been avoided

Crossing guard Mohamed Hameed, 70, right, was arrested for mischief outside Mount Joy Public School for banging on a vehicle with his stop sign. (Safra Najeemudeen/Facebook)

York Regional Police will not lay any charges after a traffic dispute led to a physical altercation between a 70-year-old crossing guard and an off-duty police officer.

The incident happened on the morning of October 9, when Mohamed Hameed struck a vehicle with his stop sign as it crossed an intersection near a Markham, Ont. elementary school.

The passenger of the car, a Toronto police officer, then arrested Hameed and called York police for assistance. Hameed was then taken into custody under for committing an act of "mischief" — a charge that's now been dropped.

After interviewing dozens of witnesses and reviewing video of the incident, York police determined the crossing guard was exclusively at fault, since there were no children crossing the intersection when he struck the car. Investigators also say the car came to a stop and "proceeded slowly" into the intersection.

However, Hameed's family say the arrest was unnecessary and a clear abuse of power by the officer involved.

"If we co-operate with an arrest, we shouldn't be treated that way," said Hammed's daughter Safra Najeemudeen, who described her father being grabbed and dragged across the intersection.

"Nobody should have to have their clothes ripped from their body, endure bruising and humiliation that way."

Contrary to the official police account, Najeemudeen, who witnessed part of the arrest, said the officer unnecessarily escalated the situation and that her father was merely trying to protect children in the area.

'He was treated like a criminal'

His public arrest and handcuffing was humiliating, she said.

"He was treated like a criminal in front of the children and families that respect him," Najeemudeen told CBC Toronto.

However, York police say they have no reason to lay charges against the officer. Police in Ontario have the authority to make arrests anywhere in the province after witnessing a criminal offence.

"We reviewed the incident and looked at the video and all of the circumstances and it was deemed that the arrest was entirely lawful and the actions taken were lawful," said Const. Laura Nicolle of York police.

While police say there are no grounds for charges against the officer, Hameed's family has filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review, which manages public complaints against police.

Najeemudeen says the officers involved could have easily de-escalated the situation, since her elderly father did not pose a threat at any point during the incident.

"They could have separated these two people and spoken to them and listened to both side of the stories without criminalizing the victim here, which I believe is my dad," she said.

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