A Niagara police officer has seen the province’s police watchdog close his case after he allegedly broke a complainant’s ribs and punctured a lung during a February arrest.
Special Investigations Unit (SIU) interim director, Joseph Martino, cleared the officer in his report saying the force used “was legally justified in aid of a lawful arrest.”
According to Martino’s version of the incident, the confrontation between the officer and the 64-year-old complainant began just after noon on Feb. 18, 2019, after the officer responded to a domestic dispute call at a Niagara Street address in Welland.
When the officer approached the complainant, he fled to a first-floor apartment in the home and tried to slam the door on the policeman.
The officer was able to stick his foot in the door and open it to see the complainant in a “fighting posture.”
The man then swung his closed fists at the officer, who then grabbed the complainant by the collar and forced him to the ground.
Refusing to surrender his arms for handcuffs, the officer decided to keep the complainant pinned to the ground until other officers arrived.
The complainant then attempted to bite the officer who delivered “two elbow strikes to the complainant’s head.”
After an arrest was completed, the complainant was sent to hospital where it was discovered he had multiple fractures and a collapsed lung.
Although Martino cleared the officer for using the “elbow strikes” on the complainant, he did question the number of hits the officer inflicted.
“While one such strike may legitimately be considered a justifiable response to the complainant’s attempted bite of the officer’s hand, I am less convinced in the propriety of the second blow, particularly as it seems implausible to believe the officer remained at risk of being bitten at the time,” said Martino.
He then closed the case saying he was “unable to reasonably conclude that the second elbow strike ran afoul.”
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