Toronto

SIU says excessive force used in Richmond Hill arrest but won't lay charges against officers involved

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit says Toronto police used excessive force when they arrested a man in Richmond Hill in February but it cannot identify which Emergency Task Force officers were responsible for injuring the man and no charges will be laid.

SIU cannot determine which Emergency Task Force officer or officers struck and seriously injured man

Ontario's police watchdog says it will not proceed with charges against Emergency Task Force officers with the Toronto police even though excessive force was used in a Richmond Hill arrest in February. A man, 28, was seriously injured in the arrest. (Yvon Theriault/CBC)

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit says Toronto police used excessive force when they arrested a man in Richmond Hill in February but that it cannot identify which officers were responsible for injuring the man and no charges will be laid.

A Nov. 5 report by SIU director Joseph Martino says the man, 28, suffered several facial fractures and a fractured spine when he was arrested on a patio at the back of a two-storey detached home on Marengo Drive on Feb. 2. The SIU issued a news release about the case on Tuesday.

According to the watchdog agency, police believed the home was being used to confine a kidnapping victim, a York University student, being held for ransom.

The report says officers with the Toronto police's Emergency Task Force and Major Crime Unit entered the home to execute a search warrant at 4:38 p.m.

Police located and freed the hostage and arrested three people. The man was one of the those arrested. 

In the report, Martino says he has determined that there is enough evidence to suggest that police used excessive force, but he is unable to say which officer or officers in particular were responsible. As a result, he says, he is unable to proceed with charges.

"The obstacle to the laying of charges resides in the evidence regarding identification," Martino says in the report.

Martino says the investigation established that it was likely one of two officers who "delivered the impugned strikes" that injured the man. Evidence suggests the man may have been kicked in the head and punched, the report says.

Both subject officers, as the SIU calls officers who are the subject of its investigations, declined to be interviewed and declined to submit notes to the SIU.

"The inability of key witnesses to identify the perpetrator or perpetrators of the force in question is understandable; the ETF officers were all wearing similar outfits with masks and helmets covering their faces," Martino says in the report.

"Regrettably, neither the officers' names nor badge numbers were plainly inscribed on their clothing. In the result, while I am satisfied there are reasonable grounds to believe that excessive force was used, I am unable to attribute said force to any one or more identifiable ETF officers," Martino continues.

"In the final analysis, as there are no reasonable grounds to pinpoint one or another officer or officers for the force used against the Complainant in his arrest, which I believe on reasonable grounds to have been excessive and caused his facial fractures, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case."

The SIU, a civilian agency, investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or an allegation of sexual assault.

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