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GSPS cleared for man’s broken ankle following arrest

Special Investigations Unit says use of force was justified in man’s arrest, but it’s also unclear when during the incident the man was injured
GSPS headquarters on Brady Street.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has cleared Greater Sudbury Police Services for a July arrest during which a man’s ankle was broken.

In a report from SIU director Joseph Martino, the unit determined there were no reasonable grounds to consider the arrest was anything other than above board and the file was closed.

As was his legal right, the officer did not agree an interview or the release of his notes.

The investigation concerned an arrest that occurred during the evening of July 18. 

That evening, police were called to a residence in the area of Sunrise Ridge Drive and Mont Adam Street regarding a complaint about a disturbance between the complainant, who had a number of outstanding arrest warrants, and his mother. 

“Several officers arrived and knocked on the front door, whereupon a distressed woman – the Complainant’s mother – opened the door as the Complainant fled through a door at the rear of the residence. The officers chased after the Complainant through the residence, out the door and across the backyards of neighbouring residences,” the report states.

The man scaled multiple fences in his attempt to flee police, until he was confronted by arresting officer on Mountain Street. 

The man was arrested and taken into custody.

“The Complainant was transported to the police station, searched, and lodged in a cell. He had to be physically restrained on several occasions during his period in custody: while being searched in the booking area, and then in his cell as officers entered to remove articles of clothing that he was using to block the cell camera.”

The man complained repeatedly about pain in his left leg and was transported to Health Sciences North the following morning and diagnosed with a fractured ankle.

In the report, SIU Director Martino said, first,  the officer was within his rights in arresting the complainant. 

“He was subject to several arrest warrants at the time. With respect to the officers that entered the residence, I should note that I am satisfied they did so legally given the distressed presentation of the Complainant’s mother at the door and evidence indicating that she allowed the officers entry into the residence,” Martino wrote. “Once in custody, the police were entitled to restrict his movements so that he could be safely processed according to law, which would include searches of his person.”

The evidence also doesn’t suggest the officers were out of line in their use of force, the report states.

“For starters, it appears that the Complainant’s arrest was effected with little if any force having been brought to bear (by the arresting officer),” the report states. “The officer did participate in the takedown of the Complainant in the booking hall, but the technique itself was called for in the circumstances. 

“The Complainant had just shoved (another officer) with his left side as the officers attempted to search him on his feet, and it made sense to want to bring him to ground to better manage any additional resistance he might offer,” Martino wrote. “Once he was prone on the floor, the (arresting officer) dropped his lower right leg onto the Complainant’s lower left leg. That too seems a reasonable use of force to prevent a previously aggressive Complainant from flailing his legs.”

Martino said it is unclear from the investigation when the complainant’s ankle was broken, but there given the nature of the arrest, it seems possible to the investigator that it occurred prior to officers attempting to search him at the station.

“The evidence gives rise to the possibility that the fracture was incurred as the Complainant fled from the police or as he kicked at the interior windows of the SO’s cruiser when he was placed in the rear seat following his arrest or in the course of the takedown in the booking area,” Martino wrote. “Be that as it may, as there are no reasonable grounds to conclude that the (arresting officer) comported himself other than within the limits of the criminal law throughout his engagement with the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case. The file is closed.”