Sudbury police cleared in case where officer broke suspect's nose during arrest

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The provincial organization that investigates police in Ontario has cleared a Greater Sudbury Police officer who broke a suspect's nose during an arrest in November 2020.

According to the incident narrative from the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), police were called around 3:40 a.m. Nov. 21 to a residence in Chelmsford.

A woman residing in an apartment unit called to complain her ex-boyfriend was harassing her. The ex lived in an apartment in a building nearby.

"The officers met with the complainant’s ex-girlfriend," said the incident narrative from the SIU.

"She explained that she had broken up with the complainant within the past 24 hours and that, since that time, he had repeatedly knocked on her front door and window seeking to speak with her. This was the second occasion on which officers had attended to deal with the situation."

Police visited the ex-boyfriend -- who was drunk – and warned him not to contact his ex-girlfriend again.

As they left, they saw the ex-boyfriend walking down the stairs and exiting the building.

"Asked where he was going, the complainant told the officers he was leaving for the gym," the SIU said. "Suspicious that the complainant was lying, the officers offered him a ride to the gym, particularly as the complainant was not dressed for the weather. It was cold, and the complainant was only wearing jeans, a T-shirt and shoes."

At that point, the ex-boyfriend declined the ride and said he planned to go back to his ex-girlfriend's apartment once police left. At that point, police arrested him for public intoxication.

"The complainant resisted as the officers endeavoured to handcuff him," the SIU said. Police "asked the complainant to cooperate, but the complainant tensed his right arm and struggled against the officer’s efforts to bring it behind his back."

One of the officers decided to bring him to the ground so he could be handcuffed, "but was only able to do so after (the other police officer) punched the complainant in the nose," the SIU said.

"Once on the ground, the complainant was handcuffed without further incident."

The ex-boyfriend ended up with a non-displaced fracture in his nose.

In his decision, SIU director Joseph Martino wrote that police have the right to use force when arresting someone if that force is "reasonably necessary."

Because the suspect in this case was drunk, and had declared his intention to return to his ex-girlfriend's apartment, police were within their rights to arrest him.

"I am further satisfied that the (police officer) did not act with excess when he punched the complainant in the nose," Martino wrote.

"By that time, the complainant’s physical resistance to his arrest had persisted through a number of verbal exhortations that he desist and efforts on the part of the officers to wrestle his arms behind his back.

"The takedown itself does not appear to have been overly aggressive or recklessly performed. Once on the ground, no further force was used to take the complainant into custody."

Read the full decision here.