Evidence ‘insufficient’ to establish misconduct charges in Collingwood dog killing: Report
The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) claims there is “insufficient evidence” to establish grounds for a misconduct charge against the officer who hit a dog with his police car multiple times before shooting the animal.
The investigation was in response to a complaint filed by Karen Sutherland, the owner of the dog (Merrick) who was killed by the officer.
Simcoe.com has obtained a copy of the OIPRD investigative report, which was completed by the office of police review director Gerry McNeilly on June 14.
“After careful investigation, I have determined that there is insufficient evidence to establish on reasonable grounds that misconduct, as defined by the Police Services Act, occurred in this complaint,” McNeilly wrote. “Therefore my finding in this matter is that the complaint with regards to these officers is unsubstantiated.”The allegations
Two officers, both of whom were not identified, were facing allegations of misconduct under the Police Services Act.
The first officer is listed as a male, and a 21-year veteran of the OPP. He was the officer who hit the dog with his cruiser before shooting it. He claims he believed the dog was a coyote (possibly rabid) even after shooting it, and did not learn it was a dog until the next day when fellow OPP officers told him. The allegation against him were that he failed to properly investigate a report of a rabid coyote, which resulted in the officer running over the complainant’s dog multiple times and then shooting her dog in front of bystanders.
The second complaint was against one of the two officers who attended the complainant’s residence the next day. The allegation was the officer did not advise the complainant it was her dog that had been shot until he was leaving the residence. Additionally, the complainant claimed this officer said he would have her dog returned to her and this was not done.The investigation
The more than 40-page report gives details of an investigation by two investigators who used statements from seven civilian witnesses, the two officers with allegations against them as well as three other members of the Collingwood/Blue Mountains OPP and the dog owner as well as telephone and video transmissions, photographs, Facebook videos, notes from all officers involved, OPP occurrence report and the officer’s use of force report for their findings.
“There were three Facebook videos disclosed by the OPP,” the report stated. “The videos were taken at night and what exactly is transpiring cannot clearly be seen.”The first complaint
The officer who killed the dog is referred to as Respondent Officer #1 in the report.
“Respondent Officer #1’s observations when he arrived led him to believe he was dealing with a rabid coyote and he did not feel it was safe for him to exit his police vehicle until he immobilized the coyote,” said the report.
The report determines the officer’s actions were “unconventional,” yet “reasonable.”
“Given the information that Respondent Officer #1 received and his own observations of the animal, his conclusions and actions were reasonable,” stated the report. “After making a decision that the animal had to be dispatched, Respondent Officer #1 acted in compliance with OPP policy and attempted to use the most effective and humane manner to accomplish this goal. The officer indicated that he hit the animal and did not run it over multiple times. This is corroborated by the medical information, which disclosed there was no broken bones.”The veterinarian
One of the civilian witnesses was a veterinarian and according to the report saw Merrick in the past and “believed he was the last one to vaccinate (the dog)” but did not recognized her because of the dog’s state.
“He said he just took x-rays and he did not complete an examination,” according to the a summary of the veterinarian's (referred to as Civilian Witness #7) interview in the report. The vet was asked by an OPP and a bylaw officer the day after the dog was killed to look at the body of the animal that arrived the night before to determine if it was a dog or a coyote.
"They went to the morgue to look at the animal and (the vet’s) initial thought was that it looked more like a dog than a coyote," stated the report. The veterinarian was asked to take x-rays of Merrick.
"Civilian Witness #7 advised that a 'cursory' look at the x-rays did not indicate there were any broken bones," stated the report. "However, (the vet) said that a radiologist should be consulted to confirm this."
The vet further claimed “he was not asked to interpret the x-ray.” And that “there was no indication from the OPP that they wanted to retrieve the dog from the hospital.”The second complaint
The second complaint alleges the OPP officer who attended the complainant’s residence to tell her about the officer killing her dog didn’t explain that the incident he was describing involving a “coyote” being killed by police was actually her dog being killed by police. The dog owner claimed the officer only revealed that toward the end of the conversation as he was leaving. She also alleges the officer said he would return her dog’s body to her, but did not.
The dog owner’s boyfriend went to the animal hospital to pick up Merrick’s body.
In the conclusion of the investigators’ report, it states the officer (called Respondent Officer #2) denied the complainants allegations and “advised he told her early in their conversation that it was her dog shot by the officer.”
A female OPP officer also attended the dog owner’s house with Respondent Officer #2 and claimed the male officer did tell the dog owner it was her dog killed while the two were “still having a discussion” but the witness officer could “not recall exactly at what point Respondent Officer #2 told the complainant it was her dog that was dispatched,” according to the report.
The witness officer did recall the other officer saying he would make arrangements to have the dog returned to its owner, but she was not aware if those arrangements were made.
Respondent Officer #2 claims he did make those arrangements, but the dog was picked up at the animal hospital prior to him being able to return the dog.
Again the investigator found the allegations against Respondent Officer #2 “unsubstantiated” due to “insufficient evidence.”The ‘matter is now closed’
In a letter sent to Karen Sutherland to notify her of the investigation results, McNeilly states the Police Services Act does not provide for a request for review of his decision.
“Therefore this matter is now closed,” he states in the letter. “The only means to challenge this decision is by way of a judicial review in the Superior Court of Justice.”http://www.simcoe.com/news-story/686158 ... ng-report/