No grounds for charges after London, Ont. police impaired driving suspect injured: SIU – London |

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The Special Investigations Unit has determined there are no grounds for charges against London police officers after an impaired driving suspect was injured during the course of his arrest.

The 22-year-old man suffered a fractured little finger on his left hand in the March 14 incident, which saw a white Volkswagon on Tecumseh Avenue repeatedly ram into police vehicles boxing it in.

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According to the SIU, between 11:50 a.m. and 11:58 a.m. on March 14, London police received a series of 911 calls, all reporting what was believed to be an impaired driver in the area of Commissioners Road East and Wharncliffe Road South.

An officer found the vehicle stationary but still running on Tecumseh Avenue West. The officer “parked his car nose-to-nose with the Volkswagen” and waited for backup.

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Another officer in a pickup truck arrived and positioned the truck so its back end was up against the rear of the Volkswagen, boxing it in.

The two officers approached the Volkswagen and knocked on the vehicle’s windows to wake the driver, the SIU says, at which point the complainant “awoke and immediately began to accelerate forward and back.”

The SIU says the Volkswagen struck the police vehicles a total of nine times.

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Police tried to get into the vehicle and used their batons to smash the glass and try to get the vehicle into park while the SIU says the complainant continued to resist. One officer was finally able to place the vehicle in park, which automatically unlocked the doors, after “delivering several strikes to the Complainant’s head area,” the SIU says.

The other two officers then got onto the vehicle, grabbed the complainant and forced him to the ground, at which point he was handcuffed.

The complainant “complained of discomfort” and was taken to hospital where “he was diagnosed with a fracture of the small finger on his left hand,” the SIU says.

As part of its investigation, the SIU interviewed the 22-year-old man and received his medical records. The SIU says two of the three subject officers involved declined to interview, as is their legal right, but the SIU did receive their notes. The third subject officer was interviewed but declined to submit notes.

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The SIU also interviewed two witness officials and reviewed CCTV footage, 911 calls and the London Police Services’ communication recordings, which were not time and date stamped.

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In his report, SIU director Joseph Martino concluded that while the complainant fractured his finger “in the course of the force used against him by police,” he does not believe any of the officers acted outside of the law.

“The officers had good reason to believe that the Complainant was intoxicated and would constitute a real risk of harm on the roadways were he allowed to escape. Given the exigencies of the moment, up against an individual determined to get away, I am unable to fault the officer for delivering the strikes after his efforts to wrestle control of the gear shift had proven unsuccessful,” says Martino.

“I am further satisfied that the Complainant’s forcible extrication from the vehicle and takedown to the roadway was lawful. The Complainant’s repeated use of his Volkswagen to ram the police vehicles around him would have suggested that he was ready to use violence if necessary to escape apprehension.”

As a result, Martino says the SIU investigation has concluded with no basis for proceeding with criminal charges.

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