Officer broke no law when he tasered man on bicycle in Oakville: SIU

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Published March 8, 2024 at 6:13 pm

A Halton Regional Police officer has been cleared of wrongdoing after tasering a man who was trying to flee on a bicycle, according to the Special Investigations Unit.

The officer in question was on patrol with a cadet on the evening of Nov. 10, 2023. The pair were on the lookout for a stolen with a flat tire.

The car was reportedly last seen leaving the QEW and Burloak Dr. The officers suspected the car thief may have pulled into an industrial area to discretely change the tire.

As such, the officers pulled up to the Burloak Dr. and Wyecroft Rd. area where they came across two cyclists in a Home Depot parking lot.

The cyclists were in the area to use an electrical plug to charge a laptop. One of the bikes pulled a trailer behind with a bag and other items inside.

The officer pulled over next to the cyclists. One of the cyclists refused to identify himself, but the officer recognized him as having an outstanding bench warrant for allegedly skipping court.

The officer pulled his taser and ordered both cyclists to the ground. One complied, but the one with the warrant did not. He remained confrontational, the SIU said, and started to dig through the bag in his bike trailer.

The officer ordered the cyclist to stop search the bag a verbalized a warning that he would use the taser. The cyclist turned his bike around and tried to run away with it. As he turned, the officers fired the taser with no effect.

However, the officer ran after the cyclist and fired the taser again. By this point, the cyclist was on his bike. His body locked up when the taser connected and he crashed, striking his head on the pavement.

The officer ran up to the cyclist, who remained on the ground and tasered him a third time, then cuffed his hand behind his back. The officers did not find the stolen car.

The cyclist was taken to hospital, where doctors found he had a cracked skull which caused an acute hematoma, or a blood clot on the brain.

Since the cyclist suffered severe injuries, the SIU was brought in to investigate. Director Joseph Martino concluded on Mar. 8 that there were no ground to charge the officer with a criminal offence.

Under the Criminal Code police are allowed to use force to detain a suspect as long as that force is “reasonably necessary.” Martino  found the officer’s use of force was reasonable.

The cyclist “was wanted on charges of break and enter, had refused to lower himself to the ground at the officer’s direction, and persisted in poking inside a bag despite being told to stop,” Martino explained.

“In the circumstances, it would appear the officer’s use of the [taser] was a tactic reasonably available.” However, he found the second and third uses of the taser open to “legitimate scrutiny.”

However, Martino concluded the later taser uses “fall short” of constituting excessive force. He did note however, Halton officers was not allowed to fire tasers at cyclists under the Service’s policy.

“On balance, and mindful that police policy, though an important barometer of what might or might not be reasonable force in a set of circumstances, is not determinative of criminal liability, I am unable to reasonably conclude with any confidence that the [the officer] acted beyond the remit of the criminal law.”

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