Cop “justified” to push man to the ground causing head injury in Ajax: SIU

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Published July 3, 2024 at 2:44 pm

No wrongdoing by Peel police in death of 88-year-old man, says SIU

The Special Investigations Unit has decided a Durham Region Police officer was “justified” in pushing a mentally ill man to the ground in Ajax, which caused a brain bleed.

According to the SIU, the officer confronted the man in a commercial plaza on 75 Bayly Street West in Ajax on the afternoon of March 2. Goldies, a cafe and eatery in the plaza, had reported a disturbance.

The caller indicated a man had tried to start a fight. A man can be heard in the background of the 911 call yelling, “Fight me. Kill me.” The caller said the man walked away from the cafe toward a neighbouring No Frills. A second caller reported the man was spitting and trying to punch and kick him.

The SIU later described the man as “to have been of unsound mind at the time.”

When the officer arrived, he found the man in the parking lot with his left hand in his jacket pocket. According to the recordings the SIU used in their later investigation, he asked the man to remove his hand from his pocket, saying, “Get your hands out of your pocket for me.”

The man replied “no” and put his right hand in his jacket pocket as well. He then began to advance toward the officer. The man continued to walk toward the officer even as the officer told him to stop, come no closer and remove his hands from his pockets.

Initially, the officer backed away from the man while giving these instructions. However, the man continued to walk towards the cop until they reached the end of the parking lot.

The officer then pushed the man backwards, which resulted in the man smacking the back of his head on the pavement. Calling paramedics, the officer rolled the man onto his side and began to massage his chest.

However, the man remained conscious. When asked what he thought would happen after charging an officer, he replied, “Jail.” The officer pulled the man up into a seated position until paramedics arrived.

In the meantime, backup officers arrived. They asked what happened and the officer answered, “I had to. He was coming at me and wouldn’t stay back. I pushed him and he fell.”

Also while awaiting paramedics, the man began to yell and speak of God. Once paramedics arrived he told them he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia for which he took medication orally and by injection.

The paramedics asked the man where he lived and he answered “That’s a good question.” Ultimately he declared he lived “on Earth” because “God sent him.” As the man continued to ramble, he was detained under the Mental Health Act.

This law allows the police to enforce the detention of mentally ill citizens in psychiatric treatment if the officer believes the subject is an immediate danger to themselves or others or not able to care for themselves.

The man was later diagnosed with a brain bleed as a result of the push. Since the wound to the man’s head was considered a serious injury, the SIU was brought in to investigate. They are meant to review all such cases. The investigation concluded on July 3.

Director Joseph Martino found “there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the [officer] committed a criminal offence. He explained, “conduct that would otherwise constitute an offence is legally justified if it was intended to deter a reasonably apprehended assault, actual or threatened, and was itself reasonable.”

“I am satisfied that the [officer] acted to defend himself from a reasonably apprehended assault when he pushed the Complainant backward. That is what he indicated to the SIU and there is no reason to disbelieve him.”

“I am also satisfied that the force used by the [officer]– a push to the torso – constituted reasonable force in self-defence,” Martino continued, “The force was at the very low end of the range of options available to the officer, who did not resort to weapons or strikes of any kind. It also occurred after efforts to de-escalate – including requests by the [officer] that the Complainant stop and show his hands, and a partial retreat by the officer – failed to halt the Complainant’s advance.”

As a result, the officer will not face any charges.

 

 

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