SIU Director Finds No Reasonable Grounds for Charges in Incident that Partially Blinded a Man from Pikangikum First Nation
Case Number: 15-PCI-151
(10 May, 2016) ---
There are no reasonable grounds to charge the subject officer in a 2012 incident in which a man from Pikangikum First Nation was struck with a prong from a conducted energy weapon and partially blinded, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit has concluded.
SIU Director Tony Loparco stated, “After a review of the limited evidence available to me, I am not satisfied that reasonable grounds exist to charge the subject officer with a criminal offence.”
The incident in question occurred on June 19, 2012. The matter was reported to the SIU on July 13, 2015, after the complainant’s father notified the Ontario Provincial Police that his son had lost sight in one eye as a result of an earlier police interaction.
The SIU immediately assigned three investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident.
Three witness officers, a civilian police employee, and two civilian witnesses were interviewed. The subject officer did not participate in an SIU interview nor did he provide a copy of his duty notes, as is his legal right.
The SIU obtained and analyzed medical records as well as maintenance records for the conducted energy weapon that was deployed.
The investigation found the following:
- On June 19, 2012, Ontario Provincial Police received a call about an out of control man at a home at the Pikangikum First Nation.
- The subject officer was the first officer to arrive and enter the residence. He spoke to the man.
- During the course of this interaction, the subject officer deployed his CEW. One of the prongs lodged itself near the man’s left eye.
- Shortly after the CEW was deployed, three witness officers arrived and assisted in gaining control of the man.
- The man was bleeding from the face and had a CEW prong lodged near his left eyelid. He was transported to a local nursing station, treated, and released.
- Medical records reveal that he returned to the nursing station the next day with pain and swelling to his eye. Later, he was referred to an ocular surgeon in Winnipeg, where he underwent surgery for a detached retina.
Director Loparco said, “The issue that I need to determine is whether or not the force employed by the subject officer went beyond what was required in the circumstances. There is, however, a definitive absence of evidence about the interaction between the subject officer and the man at the time that the CEW was first deployed.
“The man has limited to no recollection of the event, and the subject officer did not provide either an interview or his notes. While it is of course the officer’s prerogative to refrain from providing any information to this Unit, the end result is that I have no insight into his assessment of the circumstances or his thought process when he employed his CEW.
“There is also inadequate evidence to determine whether the subject officer deliberately fired his CEW at the man’s face (which could be an excessive application of force in my view) or if the CEW prong lodged itself in his face by mere happenstance.
“I have concluded that there is insufficient information to satisfy the evidentiary burden for a finding of excessive force. I simply cannot determine, with any degree of confidence, what happened between the subject officer and the man on June 19, 2012. Consequently, no charges will issue.”
The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials (police officers as well as special constables with the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service) that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must
- consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
- depending on the evidence, cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official where grounds exist for doing so, or close the file without any charges being laid
- publicly report the results of its investigations
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