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SIU clears Sudbury cop of any wrongdoing after punching drunk man in the nose during arrest

Man was harassing his ex-girlfriend at apartment complex in Chelmsford
SIU vehicle
Photo from Special Investigations Unit

The province’s Special Investigation Unit has cleared a Greater Sudbury Police officer of any wrongdoing in an arrest that led to a broken nose for the man being arrested.

On Nov. 21, 2020, officers responded to a domestic disturbance call at a housing complex in Chelmsford.

A woman had contacted police to report her ex-boyfriend had been harassing her that night. He also lived in the building.

The woman told police she had broken up with her boyfriend within the past 24 hours. The boyfriend, a 38-year-old man, had repeatedly knocked on her front door and window. This was the second time officers had to attend to deal with the situation.

The officer then spoke with the ex-boyfriend, who was drunk. The officers warned him to stop contacting his ex-girlfriend.

Then, while the officers were waiting in the apartment lobby, they saw the man go downstairs and out the door. They questioned him on his destination, and he told them he was going to the gym. Suspicious, as he was only wearing jeans, a T-shirt and shoes in cold temperatures, they offered him a ride. He declined, then told the officers he was planning to go back to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment.

At this point, the officers placed him under arrest. The man resisted. One of the officers decided to bring the man to the ground, but was only able to do so after the second officer punched the man in the nose.

As he was bleeding from the nose, an ambulance was called and he was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the nose. 

Joseph Martino, director of the SIU, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to believe the officer acted other than lawfully and there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges. The file is closed.

Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, police officers are immune from criminal liability for force used in the course of their duties provided such force was reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they were required or authorized to do by law, said Martino.

The ex-boyfriend had consumed a large amount of alcohol and was significantly impaired by the time of the officers’ arrival. He had also made it clear by the time of his arrest outside the building that he was intent on returning to his ex-girlfriend’s residence. 

“On this record, I am satisfied that the officers had a lawful basis for arresting the (ex-boyfriend) for public intoxication. I am further satisfied that the (officer who punched the man) did not act with excess when he punched the (man) in the nose. 

By that time, the man’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. 

It was only after the strike that the other officer, who had decided to take the man down to the ground to assist in his arrest, was able to do so, said Martino. 

“The takedown itself does not appear to have been overly aggressive or recklessly performed,” he said. “Once on the ground, no further force was used to take the man into custody. In the circumstances, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the punch fell outside the range of what was reasonably necessary in the moment to overcome the man’s resistance and effect his arrest.”