Halton officer’s in-car video does not show how drunk driving suspect’s ribs were broken: SIU

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February 3, 2023 at 6:41 pm

Officers with the Halton Police have been cleared after a suspected impaired driver was diagnosed with two rib fractures after their arrest in Burlington last fall.

The Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which is the provincial police watchdog says “there are no reasonable grounds” to believe any officer committed a criminal offence during the arrest on Walkers Line, near Donnic Dr., on the morning of Oct. 1. The complainant contacted the SIU six days later, and his medical records that confirmed the diagnosis of two rib fractures were viewed by the SIU.

The arrest stemmed from a 911 call that was made around 7:14 a.m. on Oct. 1 (a Saturday morning). The caller told the 911 operator of a suspected drunk driver who was travelling 10 to 20 km/h below the speed limit on Britannia Rd. in Milton. The details given to 911 also mention that the driver, after turning southbound on Appleby Line, jumped the curb of a roundabout, was “swerving from side to side,” and twice came close to hitting hydro poles.

The driver was stopped by a Halton (HRPS) officer within a few minutes, according to SIU Director Joseph Martino’s report. He refused to provide a breath sample and was taken into custody.

The 45-year-old complainant’s rib fractures were diagnosed on Oct. 5. He filed an online complaint with the SIU two days later. His account was that he was “arrested and pushed hard against a police cruiser, at which point he heard a crack sound and felt a sharp pain.”

The HRPS officer driving that cruiser turned on its in-car camera system before she got out. The SIU says the footage did not verify the man’s account.

“There was no resistance to the handcuffing and the top half of the Complainant’s body did not contact (the witness officer’s) HRPS cruiser,” Martino wrote in a report posted on Friday.

“I am satisfied that the Complainant was subject to arrest for impaired driving and refusing to provide a breath sample,” Martino added. The 911 caller had observed indicia of impairment in the manner in which the van was being operated, and a bottle of alcohol was found in the van after the Complainant’s arrest.

“As for the force used to effect the Complainant’s arrest, this was negligible and consisted of (two witness officers) taking hold of his arms, handcuffing him, and positioning the Complainant by the side of the hood of (a police) cruiser so he could be searched. There is no indication of any real force being brought to bear by the officers who dealt with the Complainant. Any suggestion that the Complainant was pushed against the hood of the cruiser is simply not borne out by the video evidence.

“… (T)here are no reasonable grounds to believe that any of the officers who dealt with the Complainant around the time of his arrest on October 1, 2022, comported themselves other than lawfully.”

The SIU investigates when there has been death, serious injury, the discharge of a firearm at a person, and/or an allegation of sexual assault in an incident where a police officer was involved. A fractured rib is part of the SIU’s working definition of a serious injury.

The full report, which includes details that may shock, offend and upset, is available at siu.on.ca.

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