Ottawa police officer won’t be charged for arrest that left man’s nose broken
An Ottawa Police cruiser is seen near the Elgin Street police station in Ottawa, on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA -- An Ottawa police officer won’t be charged in relation to an arrest in Orléans last summer that left a 42-year-old man with a broken nose.
The director of the Special Investigation Unit, Ontario’s police watchdog, said in a report released Wednesday there are no reasonable grounds to believe the officer committed a crime when he took the man down on a path near the Ottawa River.
The man, whom police arrested for public intoxication, adopted a “threatening posture” toward the officer, leading the officer to react in self-defence, SIU director Joseph Martino’s report found.
“On the one hand, one wonders whether a takedown was strictly necessary to ward off the Complainant’s threat of force,” Martino’s report said. “After all, there were four officers present and the Complainant was only one.
“That said, given the rapidity with which events unfolded, I am satisfied that the takedown was more in the nature of an instinctive reaction than a deliberate course of action.”
The incident on Aug. 7, 2020 started before 9 p.m. The SIU found the man and his girlfriend were in a wooded area north of Bilberry Drive near the Ottawa River, talking and drinking alcohol. The man’s girlfriend’s wheelchair became stuck in the path, so he went to get help.
He approached another man on the path and asked him to call 9-1-1 before heading back into the woods “visibly upset, covered in dirt and incoherent,” the report said.
Police arrived on scene, and four officers went into the woods to look for the man and his girlfriend. By this point it was after 9 p.m., so it was dark.
The officers found the couple and helped them set off down a path to exit the woods. After several minutes, the officer “grounded” the man, the report says. He landed face-first and broke his nose.
Police helped him up, arrested him for public intoxication, put him in the back of a cruiser and took him to a shelter, where he was released from custody.
The SIU report found the officer was acting to protect himself when he took down the officer. The walk through the woods was slow because of the man’s intoxication, the report said. According to two of the other officers present, the officer took hold of the man’s arm to help push him along, and the man reacted by pulling his arm away, lifting it above his head and turning it towards the officer.
The report found the officer was acting to protect himself. Forcing the man to the ground was “a legitimate tactic to deter a reasonably apprehended attack,” the report said.
The man said he thought the officer took him because he was annoyed at his slow pace, but Martino said he was “unable to place much if any weight” on that allegation.
SIU investigators interviewed the 42-year-old man and five witness officers. The officer under investigation declined to be interviewed or provide notes, as is his legal right.
The SIU wasn’t informed about the incident until October, when the man filed a complaint with police about the arrest.