SIU clears Kingston Police officers in 2022 arrest

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has cleared two Kingston Police officers of any wrongdoing following an investigation into injuries an individual sustained during an arrest in September of 2022.

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving an official, such as a police officer, where there has been death, serious injury, the discharge of a firearm at a person or an allegation of sexual assault. 

According to the SIU, in the late evening of Thursday, Sept. 13, 2022, Kingston Police officers were dispatched to an apartment in the area of Highway 15, in the east end of Kingston, following a call to police. A caller had reported that an intoxicated person was causing a disturbance outside the front door of the building – “he was yelling and threatening to break windows” – after allegedly being denied entry by his mother.

This intoxicated person, the Complainant, lived with his mother in the building, had forgotten his key to the building, and was being refused entry through the front access door because of his intoxication and belligerent behaviour. 

Two Kingston Police officers, which the SIU designated as Subject Officer #1 and Subject Officer #2, arrived on scene at about 11:18 p.m. Following an altercation with the Complainant, he was arrested for public intoxication, handcuffed, and transported to the police station.

According to evidence gathered by the SIU, including video of the police cell area, while back at the station, the Complainant began to feel pain in his left side. He alerted police officials and arrangements were made to take him to hospital.

The Complainant was subsequently diagnosed at hospital with a left-sided lateral rib fracture.

The SIU interviewed the Complainant and a civilian witness in the course of their investigation. Neither subject police officers agreed to an interview with the SIU or the release of their notes, as was their legal right, the SIU noted.

“The Complainant was seriously injured in the course of his arrest by KP officers on September 13, 2022. The officers – SO #1 and SO #2 – were identified as subject officials for purposes of the ensuing SIU investigation. The investigation is now concluded. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either subject official committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s arrest and injury,” said Joseph Martino, SIU Director, in his decision. “Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, police officers are immune from criminal liability for force used in the course of their duties provided such force was reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they were required or authorized to do by law,” Martino continued.

“The weight of the evidence”, Martino said, “establishes that the Complainant was in an intoxicated condition, refusing to leave the front entrance area of the apartment building, and attempting to force his way inside. In the circumstances, it would appear there was a legitimate basis for arresting the Complainant pursuant to section 31(2) of the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019.” 

“With respect to the force that may have been used by one or both of the officers in effecting the Complainant’s arrest, the evidence is not sufficiently cogent to justify proceeding with criminal charges. While there is some evidence that the Complainant was punched three times by one of the officers, there is no evidence that describes which officer would have been responsible for the blows,” Martino explained.

“The source of this allegation also states the Complainant was only “a bit intoxicated” at the time, but that evidence is belied by the Complainant’s behaviour at the scene and the evidence of his inebriation by other witnesses.”

According to Martino, the source of the allegation also confirmed that the Complainant resisted arrest, albeit characterizing the resistance as “minimal”.

“On this record, I am unable to reasonably conclude with any confidence that one or both of the subject officials used excessive force in taking the Complainant into custody.”  

“In the result, while it seems likely that the Complainant’s injury was incurred in the course of his arrest by SO #1 and SO #2, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either officer comported himself other than lawfully throughout their engagement. As such, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case,” Martino concluded.

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