No charges for OPP officer that partially blinded man

If the drift of Canada towards a police state has not yet affected you directly, you would do well to recall the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, writing in Germany before his arrest in the 1930s: "The Nazis came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I was a Protestant, so I didn't speak up....by that time there was nobody left to speak up for anyone."

No charges for OPP officer that partially blinded man

Postby Thomas » Thu May 12, 2016 7:24 am

No charges for OPP officer in incident that partially blinded man

The SIU said there are “no reasonable grounds” to charge police officer involved in a Taser incident that left a Pikangikum First Nation man blind in one eye.

An OPP officer shoots a man in the face with a Taser. It takes more than three years for the province’s police watchdog to find out. When it does investigate, the man can’t remember what happened and the cop won’t agree to an interview or share his notes.

So, case closed.

That’s the result of a probe by the Special Investigations Unit, which announced Tuesday that there just isn’t enough evidence to support charges over the incident, in a remote indigenous community in 2012, that left the unnamed man blind in one eye.

“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,” said SIU director Tony Loparco in a statement.

“I simply cannot determine, with any degree of confidence, what happened between the subject officer and the man.”

The case is a prime example of why stronger measures are needed to compel police to co-operate with the province’s civilian oversight agency, said criminal defence lawyer Reid Rusonik. The SIU is mandated to investigate incidents involving police when someone is killed or seriously injured, or sexual assault is alleged.

“You get a job with all of that power, why shouldn’t you have to account for its use, even if it exposes you to criminal charges? That should be a deterrent in place to keep you from abusing that power,” Rusonik said.

The SIU has been under fire in recent weeks for a lack of transparency and effectiveness. The agency does not release the names of officers who are subject to investigations and only one report on its oversight inquiries has been made public since its creation in 1990.

Last month, the attorney general released nine of 34 pages of the SIU’s report on the death of Andrew Loku, a 45-year-old father from South Sudan who was shot and killed by a Toronto police officer last July. The attorney general and SIU consider the reports confidential for privacy reasons, while the province’s information and privacy commissioner has said there can be circumstances of “significant public interest” when the SIU may disclose the name or other information associated with completed investigations.

Calls remain for more transparency and reform as a panel headed by Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch has been tasked with reviewing the province’s police oversight regime.

According to Tuesday’s news release by the SIU, in June 2012, an OPP officer responded to a call about an “out of control man” at a home in Pikangikum First Nation, an Ojibwa community in northwestern Ontario. Inside, there was an “interaction” between the man and the police officer, and the officer fired his conductive energy weapon, also known as a Taser, according to the release.

One of the weapon’s prongs got lodged near the man’s left eye.

Three more officers arrived at that point and helped subdue the man, according to the SIU statement. The man was bleeding from his face and taken to hospital.

The SIU says it wasn’t informed of this until July 2015, after the man’s father went to the OPP and told them his son “lost sight in one eye as a result” of the Taser incident. An SIU spokesman, Jason Gennaro, told the Star in an email the OPP flagged the incident to the oversight agency, which “immediately” assigned investigators to find out what happened.

They interviewed the other officers and three civilians, but didn’t learn enough about the incident, the SIU statement says. Medical records showed the man returned to a nursing station in Pikangikum the next day “with pain and swelling to his eye,” and later travelled to Winnipeg for detached retina surgery.

The SIU investigators also reviewed the Taser maintenance records and the OPP’s use-of-force protocols, Gennaro said.

The SIU will not release the man’s name, he said, because it has not obtained his consent.

Criminal defence lawyer Roy Wellington said the Pikangikum incident brings up questions about the definition of “serious injury” in the SIU’s mandate — not to mention questions about why it took more than three years for the SIU to start an investigation. By law, police are required to call in the oversight body when a civilian sustains a “serious injury” in an interaction with police.

“This result is very, very troubling,” Wellington said. “If someone is shot in the face with a Taser, and he’s bleeding from his face, and they have to take him to hospital, that is clearly serious.”

Sgt. Peter Leon, a spokesman for the OPP, said the police service is legally bound to “immediately” notify the SIU when its mandate applies, but he declined to say why that didn’t happen right away in the Pikangikum case.

He also wouldn’t say exactly when the OPP learned that the Pikangikum man lost sight in one eye. Leon directed all questions to the SIU, stating that OPP protocol prevents officers from speaking about an incident probed by the SIU, even after the SIU completes an investigation. (The Police Services Act restricts the release of such information “during the course of an investigation.”)

Rusonik, meanwhile, said it would be a mistake to lay charges without sufficient evidence, and that officers, like other Canadians, have the constitutional right to remain silent in the face of an investigation.

But when it comes to police oversight, he argued, an exception should be made in the name of “greater societal interest” (under Section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) so that police are compelled to co-operate and share their version of events.

“It’s a necessary trade-off,” he said. “They have no reason to fear a responsible use of force.”

Lawrence Gridin, a lawyer who represents police officers in Toronto, said cops are given the same rights as everyone else under Canada’s constitution, which also trumps provincial laws such as the Police Services Act. That means any statements officers were forced to provide would not be admissible during a future trial, Gridin said.

“Unless we are going to seriously discuss removing the right to silence from the constitution, there is really no sense debating the issue of whether officers should be compelled to speak to the SIU,” he said.

With files from Robert Benzie, Wendy Gillis and Jacques Gallant

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/0 ... d-man.html
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SIU clears officer after northern Ontario man blinded in eye

Postby Thomas » Thu May 12, 2016 7:26 am

SIU clears officer after northern Ontario man blinded in eye by Taser prong

SIU was unable to determine if the officer deliberately fired at the man's face or it was happenstance


The province's police watchdog says there are no reasonable grounds to charge a provincial police officer after a Pikangikum First Nation man was struck near the eye by a prong from a Taser and partially blinded.

Director Tony Loparco says the incident occurred on June 19, 2012, and was reported to the Special Investigations Unit on July 13, 2015, after the man's father notified the OPP that his son had lost sight in one eye.

The SIU says the officer was responding to a call about an out-of-control man at a home in Pikangikum First Nation when, at some point, he deployed his conducted energy weapon and one of the prongs lodged itself near the man's left eye.

The man was taken to a local nursing station, treated, and released, but returned the next day with pain and swelling to his eye, and later underwent surgery in Winnipeg for a detached retina.

Loparco says there was little evidence available to assess the incident and the man has "limited-to-no recollection" of the event.

He says the SIU was unable to determine if the officer deliberately fired at the man's face or if the prong lodged itself in his face by accident.

The SIU is an arm's length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-b ... -1.3576655
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No charges for OPP officer in incident that partially blinde

Postby Thomas » Thu May 12, 2016 7:27 am

The SIU will not be laying charges against an Ontario Provincial Police officer involved in a 2012 incident that left a Pikangikum First Nations man partially blind.

The case was reported to the SIU on July 13, 2015, after the man’s father reported to the OPP that his son has lost sight in one eye due to the interaction with police about three years earlier.

On June 19, 2012, the OPP responded to a home at the Pikangikum First Nation after receiving a call about an out of control man.

The SIU said the first officer to arrive on the scene spoke to the man, and at some point in the interaction, he deployed his conducted energy weapon. One of its prongs struck the man and lodged itself near his left eyelid.

Three witness officers arrived on scene after the weapon was deployed, and helped gain control over the man.

The victim was transported to a nursing station with a bleeding face, and later treated and released. However, medical records show he returned to the nursing station the next day to deal with pain and swelling in his eye.

He later underwent surgery for a detached retina.

“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,” said SIU Director Tony Loparco. “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 police officer being investigated retained his legal right not to participate in an SIU interview or provide investigators with a copy of his duty notes.

Loparco said the man who sustained the injury has limited to no memory of the event. “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,” he said.

The three witness officers, a civilian police employee, and two civilian witnesses were interviewed by the SIU. Loparco concluded that there is insufficient evidence to charge the officer.

The SIU, a provincial watchdog, is called to investigate police-related incidents when death, serious injury or an allegation of sexual assault is alleged.

http://ca.24365news.info/no-charges-for ... inded-man/
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