St. Thomas police not at fault for man’s collarbone break: SIU

The province’s police watchdog does not believe a St. Thomas police officer did anything wrong during a December arrest that left a man with serious injuries.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) launched its probe hours after a 20-year-old man was taken into custody on December 29. The circumstances leading to the man’s arrest began shortly after midnight when a pickup truck was seen running a red light on Highway 3 heading into the city. The same truck was observed colliding with a road sign and then speeding off. At that point, police were called.

An officer found the vehicle but was unable to stop it. Police began pursuing it until it turned down a dead-end road that led to a park and the chase was called off. Spike belts laid down by police were hit by the vehicle, deflating three of its tires. Shortly after that the pickup crashed into a concrete barrier.

The driver ran from the vehicle and was later found hiding in a narrow opening between a home’s front porch and the foundation wall. A police officer kicked the man twice in the chest during the arrest.

The man was later taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured right clavicle.

Three SIU investigators were assigned to the case. They found that the man had not been wearing a seatbelt when the pickup crashed causing the airbag to deploy. The vehicle had extensive damage to the front end and windshield, the SIU noted.

A “rifle round” and a couple of knives were found inside the vehicle.

“With respect to the force used by the [subject officer] in aid of the [man’s] arrest, namely, two kicks and the use of manual force attempting to extract him from a gap beside the porch, I am satisfied that it fell within the range of what was reasonably necessary in the circumstances,” SIU Director Joseph Martino said in his final report on the incident.

He went on to state that given the discovery of weapons inside the pickup truck the officer would have had reason to believe the man was armed and would not surrender peacefully.

“The kicks would have served to distract the [man] in the event he was, in fact, in possession of a weapon, mitigating the risk of such weapons being brought into play before he could safely be apprehended. No further strikes of any kind were delivered,” said Martino.

“Whether the [man’s] injury was incurred during the events on the porch or, as seems more likely, the motor vehicle collisions he was in, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that it was attributable to any unlawful conduct on the part of the [subject officer]. As such, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges.”

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