Toronto

'You choked me to death': SIU clears cops after 'belligerent' man's ribs fractured in arrest

The incident involved a man calling a police officer “a piece of sh-t,” lying about driving even though he was caught on camera, and telling a cop he had been “choked to death.”

Man repeatedly called an officer a 'piece of sh-t,' according to report

The province's Special Investigations Unit has cleared Toronto police officers of any wrongdoing after a man was injured during an arrest back in 2016. (Christopher Langenzarde/CBC)

The provincial police watchdog has cleared Toronto police of any wrongdoing after a man arrested for drunk driving outside a downtown McDonald's ended up with a fractured right hand and two broken ribs.

In a decision released Thursday, the director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) cleared the officers involved in the incident, which involved a 37-year-old man repeatedly calling an officer "a piece of sh-t," lying about driving even though he was caught on camera, and telling a cop he had been "choked to death."

"There are no grounds for proceeding with charges in this matter and the file is closed," wrote interim SIU director Joseph Martino in his decision.

The incident itself happened back on Aug. 26 of 2016. That's when, according to the SIU report, a man parked his car along the western curb of Church Street across from the McDonald's on the southeast corner of the Church and Queen Streets intersection.

The man got out of his car, walked to the restaurant and "briefly engaged" a group of people hanging out on the sidewalk before he headed inside, according to the SIU.

"The complainant was belligerent with the staff of the restaurant and was refused service," the SIU report reads.

Then when he stepped back outside, the man called police and said another man had threatened him with a knife outside the restaurant. That's when officers were sent to investigate.

'My friend investigates you guys'

Several cops arrived around 3:30 a.m. One of the officers established no knife had actually been seen, and the whole thing was basically a shouting match, the report says.

A man then walked out of the restaurant and confronted the complainant, who looked like he was going to move forward and engage the other man, the SIU says.

An officer grabbed the complainant to try to make sure things didn't escalate, but the man didn't listen when he was told to calm down, according to the report. He was then taken to the ground.

Police say the incident happened outside this McDonald's. (Google)

The man was then put into the back of a police car. Camera footage from inside the car caught him saying things like, "My friend investigates you guys, wait, just f--king wait," and "You're going down … you piece of sh-t," according to the report.

The man also said, "I live around here and pay my taxes" and denied driving — though he did say he had been drinking vodka, the report reads.

When an officer said he felt the man might be on some sort of "powdery substance," the man responded he had been in Montreal and "whatever happened, happened."

Not long after, the man refused to provide a breath sample and was arrested for drunk driving. He later told an officer, "You f--king choked me to death, you piece of sh-t," according to the report.

Man says he was 'roughed up'

About an hour later at the police booking hall, the man said he had been "roughed up," especially by one of the officers and "a black lady," the SIU says.

He also told an officer, "You have no f--king right to do this to me, I pay your f--king salary," and claimed he would sell his condo to sue police, according to the report.

The SIU says the man was taken to hospital, but refused medical attention. He was diagnosed with multiple rib fractures and a fractured right hand at a later date.

Martino said in his decision that one of the officers involved in the man's arrest most likely caused the rib fractures, but he also noted alcohol could be smelled on the man's breath, and he was "behaving irrationally and with belligerence.

"I am satisfied there are no reasonable grounds to believe the [officer] committed a criminal offence in connection with the complainant's arrest and injuries," Martino said.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

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Adam Carter

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Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.