Toronto

SIU reopens case of alleged OPP beating of Good Samaritan

The Special Investigations Unit will take another look at a case in which a woman says she stopped to help the victim of a mugging and was then badly beaten and maimed by an Ontario Provincial Police officer.

Investigation reopened after charges dismissed against Maria Farrell

The Special Investigations Unit will take another look at a case in which a woman says she stopped to help the victim of a mugging and was then badly beaten and maimed by an Ontario Provincial Police officer.

The case involving Maria Farrell stems from an incident that occurred in Orillia, Ont., nearly two years ago. She suffered a broken leg during an interaction with a police officer at that time.

The SIU, which investigates incidents involving police in Ontario where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault, initially looked at the case and did not lay charges. It announced Wednesday that it is reopening its investigation.

Farrell, who goes by the name Tonie, heard a woman screaming as she was walking by the area of Colborne Street East and West Street South in April 2013. She saw a woman being beaten by three people. The assailants fled when Farrell ran toward them. She then consoled the victim, who she says was clearly distraught.

When OPP Sgt. Russell Watson arrived at the scene, an altercation followed that a judge has said caused "catastrophic injuries" to Farrell.

Farrell alleges Watson kicked her in the side of her knee, breaking her leg and sending her to the ground. She says he then punched her in the face and climbed on top of her, pressing her face into the concrete.

It is alleged that he and two other officers then dragged her to a police car, and had to struggle to get her in the car because her leg wouldn't bend properly, her lawyer, Angela McLeod, told CBC Radio's As It Happens last year.

Farrell initially faced charges of assaulting and obstructing a police officer. The charges were dismissed in December 2014.

It was that dismissal that prompted the SIU to reopen its investigation. Justice George Beatty admonished the OPP officer in his reasons for judgment, sharply criticizing Watson's behaviour.