SIU Clears Thunder Bay Police Officers over Incident on October 28, 2020

Thunder Bay Police Service Unit COR
Thunder Bay Police Service Unit COR

Thunder Bay – NEWS – On the night of October 28, 2020, two Thunder Bay Police Service officers were dispatched to a tavern to investigate a disturbance.

The officers walked in on a brawl, ordered the combatants to stand down and then physically intervened to pull them apart.

Both officers were then confronted and attacked by an unruly crowd of patrons.

Following the assault, a 27-year-old man was arrested and subsequently taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with lacerations of his left leg and right buttock.

The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Joseph Martino, has determined the officers did not cause the man’s injuries, and that their conduct was lawful throughout their interaction with him.

On October 28, 2020, the Complainant was arrested by TBPS officers and subsequently taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with lacerations of his left leg and right buttock. One of the arresting officers – the SO – was identified as the subject officer for purposes of the SIU investigation. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s arrest and injuries.

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. There is no question that the officers’ arrest of the Complainant was lawful. Based on what they had seen and personally experienced, there were grounds to take the Complainant into custody for an assault-based offence.

Thereafter, I am satisfied that both officers did little more than defend themselves and each other as they were confronted and attacked by an unruly crowd of bar patrons. The Complainant was a large man and was clearly getting the better of the SO. He had thrown the officer to the floor as the SO was coming to the aid of a man under attack, and was striking him from up top. The SO, from ground-level, punched the Complainant but the blows were ineffective in thwarting the attack. The WO, responding to his partner’s request for help while still embroiled in an altercation with other males, managed to make it over to the Complainant and deliver a strike to the head. The force worked to the extent that the SO was able to free himself from the Complainant, who proceeded to leave the bar. Once outside the bar, it seems that the Complainant, now fully aware that he had been dealing with police officers, was cooperative and handcuffed without trouble. On this record, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the force used by the officers, which was commensurate and proportional to the force they were facing, was excessive in the circumstances.

It is unclear when exactly the Complainant suffered the lacerations for which he was treated at hospital. As there was broken glass on the floor from beer bottles that had been thrown, it is likely that the injuries were at least in part incurred inadvertently as the Complainant found himself on the floor engaged with the officers. It may also be that the Complainant, who had been involved in a physical altercation with bar patrons prior to the officers’ arrival, was already injured by the time he was tussling with the SO and WO. Be that as it may, there is no evidence that the officers slashed or stabbed the Complainant at any point or that their conduct was other than lawful throughout their interaction with him. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.

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