OPP officer is demoted over Taser incidents

Police brutality is the wanton use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer. Widespread police brutality exists in many countries, even those that prosecute it. It is one of several forms of police misconduct, which include: false arrest, intimidation, racial profiling, political repression, surveillance abuse, sexual abuse and police corruption.

OPP officer is demoted over Taser incidents

Postby Thomas » Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:10 am

Cop demoted over Taser incidents

ORILLIA - A Nottawasaga OPP officer will be temporarily demoted after pleading guilty to discreditable conduct for using a Taser in two separate incidents of horseplay with his fellow police officers.

A hearing held Wednesday at the Orillia OPP headquarters ended with Sgt. Eric Steele, a 17-year veteran, being demoted to first class constable for six months for his actions. His salary will also be clawed back to reflect the demotion.

Several factors were weighed into the decision, including the officer’s otherwise stellar service record with the organization, along with his willingness to bring the matter to an end.

“I can see that you are an officer that has had a lapse of judgment,” said adjudicator Insp. Stuart McDonald during his closing comments after the ruling.

“The organization certainly does take it seriously and it’s intolerable that you would misuse use of force,” he added.

Steele admitted to using an electrified weapon in two separate incidents, the details of which were revealed in a joint statement of agreed facts. At the hearing, Steele also expressed remorse over his actions.

“To say that I’m embarrassed and shamed of my current position does not begin to describe my feelings,” Steele said. “The fact that my inappropriate behaviour allowed me as an individual the opportunity to publicly, and in the media, hurt the reputation of my fellow officers at the detachment and the force for which I’ve diligently served for the past 17 years, pains me greatly.”

The most recent incident Steele was involved in took place last year around Oct. 14 at the Nottawasaga detachment in Alliston.

According to the statement, Steele lost his cool in the office area after a group of four other officers started teasing him and mocking his voice.

“The officers in the constables’ area were bantering back and forth and joking around,” said OPP prosecutor Insp. Charles Young. “They began to tease Sgt. Steele. The teasing was in reference to a specific voice and sound that Sgt. Steele makes when he is speaking.”

He asked one of the officers to stop, but the laughter and joking continued and he left the office in frustration. That’s when he pulled out the weapon.

“Sgt. Steele questioned (the constable) as to who was making the sounds to mimic him,” Young said. “He unholstered his conducted energy weapon, commonly referred to a CEW from his duty belt. He removed the cartridge from the CEW and placed it into his pants.”

Steele walked over to the constable and used the weapon on him. Even though the weapon’s cartridge was removed, it was still capable of delivering a shock.

“Sgt. Steele proceeded to drive stun (the constable) on his upper left leg,” Young said. “(The constable) immediately stepped back away from Sgt. Steele.”

The horseplay continued and Steele threatened to stun another officer, even though he later admitted he had no intention to do so.

The constable backed away from Steele and said “if he ever pulled his Taser on him again, he would break his arm.”

The second incident happened almost six years ago in the summer of 2006 during a night shift at the detachment’s extended satellite office in Angus. Steele was the acting sergeant working with three other constables.

At some point during the shift he started teasing and rough housing with a female officer.

“The verbal exchange between the two escalated into a playful wrestling match,” Young said.

Steele placed the other constable into a headlock, but she freed herself by striking him on the inside of his thigh. She then knocked him on the ground, ran to her police cruiser and locked herself inside.

Steele got up, approached the driver side door and pulled out his Taser.

“Acting Sgt. Steele pursued (the constable) back to the police vehicle,” Young said. “(She) locked herself in the vehicle and made gestures towards acting Sgt. Steele. Acting Sgt. Steele then pulled out his CEW and activated against the driver side window.”

The female constable wasn’t injured since the glass insulated her from the charge. Steele then made use of his pepper spray.

“After the deployment of the CEW, acting Sgt. Steele deployed his pepper spray in the area at the base of the police vehicle’s windshield and venting system by the wiper blades,” Young said.

The incident was never reported to a supervisor or manager.

At the hearing, Steele said the entire ordeal has taken a toll on him in many ways, especially for his family. He admitted his conduct was inexcusable.

“The actions that have been brought here are unacceptable and I offer no excuse or attempt at justification. I more than realize I went to far in what started as playful banter,” he said. “I can assure you I will not be before this tribunal again.”

http://www.simcoe.com/news/police/artic ... -incidents
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