SIU closes investigation into serious injury caused by Kingston Police arrest

Photo by Daniel Tastard-Homer/Kingstonist.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has concluded its investigation into a July 2023 incident in which a female, who reportedly assaulted a staff member and was throwing items at customers, suffered a broken shoulder after being arrested by Kingston Police.

The SIU — which investigates any incident in Ontario involving law enforcement officials in which there is serious injury, death, allegation of sexual assault, or discharge of a firearm by an official at a person — has determined that, while the 25-year-old female involved in the case did likely suffer the injury during the arrest, there are “no reasonable grounds to believe a Kingston Police officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the arrest.”

The officers in this case are Kingston Police (KP) officers, and the above statement comes from the findings of SIU Director Joseph Martino in his report on the incident, which was published on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. The civilian, who was injured during the incident on July 21, 2023, will be referred to as the “Complainant” throughout this article, as is done in the SIU’s report.

The incident took place at a restaurant on King Street East. According to the SIU report, at approximately 7:18 p.m. that day, staff at the establishment had contacted police about an inebriated patron, the Complainant, who had thrown items at customers and assaulted an employee. At approximately 7:41 p.m., the first officer on scene located the Complainant on Bagot Street near Brock Street and told her that he wanted to speak to her about an assault at the restaurant. The Complainant denied that she had assaulted anyone, according to the SIU.

The Complainant attempted to leave the area, but the officer advised the Complainant that she was under arrest, after which he took her by the arm and began to walk her to his cruiser. At the cruiser, the Complainant reportedly dropped to the ground. The officer eventually restrained her in handcuffs.

A second officer, referred to as the Subject Officer in this report, arrived on scene and assisted the original officer in righting the Complainant and seating her on a sidewalk bench near the cruiser. The first responding officer then left to speak with witnesses about the restaurant assault — the witnesses had followed the Complainant to the area of her arrest. As the officer was speaking with them, one of the witnesses reported that the Subject Officer was having difficulty with the Complainant.

“The [Subject Officer] had been escorting the Complainant to a cruiser when she turned and head-butted him in the face. The officer reacted by grounding the Complainant,” the SIU report reads. “The Complainant was lifted from the ground and taken to a cruiser where, after some difficulty, the officers managed to place her in the rear.”

Following the arrest, the Complainant was taken to the station and lodged in a cell. According to the SIU, the Complainant subsequently complained of pain in her right shoulder and was transported to hospital where she was diagnosed with a fractured shoulder.

The SIU was contacted by Kingston Police the following morning, and an investigation ensued. Director Martino analyzed the evidence and relevant legislation, and provided the following assessment in his report.

“Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code [Protection of Persons Acting Under Authority], 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 stated.

He went on to note that he was “satisfied that the officer was within his rights in arresting the Complainant. Once in custody, the officers were entitled to restrict her movements so that she might be safely processed according to law.”

In his analysis, Martino remarked on the officer using reasonable force during arrest.

“Having been head-butted in the face, the officer had cause to want to prevent a further assault on his person by taking the Complainant to ground. In that position, the [officer] could better expect to manage any further resistance from the Complainant. With respect to the takedown itself, there is no evidence that it was executed in an unduly forceful way, albeit it is likely what caused the Complainant’s broken shoulder.”

Martino concluded his report by stating that he is unable to “reasonably conclude that the [Subject Officer] comported himself other than within the confines of the criminal law in his engagement with the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case.”

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