The London Police Service is the focus of a investigation by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit following an incident Saturday night.
At approximately 3 a.m. Saturday morning, police arrested a 18-year-old student. During his involvement with the police, the 18-year-old suffered a fractured orbital bone under his left eye.
When the extent of the injuries became apparent, the London Police Service was required by provincial law to call the SIU to investigate.
On Tuesday, A Channel, a local television station owned by CTVglobemedia, released footage of the incident. A Channel had a news crew following London police that night to shoot footage of the mayhem that is Fanshawe’s frosh week.
The footage is disturbing, to say the least. At 37 seconds into the footage, a plainclothes police officer harshly knees a handcuffed suspect laying on the ground in the face.
Many of the officers, including the officers making the arrests, are members of the police tactical squad; they are held to an even higher level of professional conduct than regular uniformed officers.
Admittedly, we do not know what occurred prior to this clip. I also acknowledge how frustrating the situation near Fanshawe College must be for officers, having laid 600 charges over the first 10 days of the academic year.
During the footage, police arrest two men. There are around a dozen police officers involved with or supporting the arrest. Although they are struggling somewhat, neither men appear to be a threat to officers who are clearly in control of the situation.
There is a large crowd of young people in the area and profanities are being yelled at police.18 seconds into the video, a plainclothes officer body-slams a young person into a mini-van.
He quickly takes the individual to the ground. Assisted by two tactical officers, the plainclothes officer grabs the individual’s arms and handcuffs the individual. At 28 seconds, it is clear the individual is handcuffed.
The camera turns away for four seconds. It returns to the individual being asked a question by the plainclothes officer at 32 seconds. The officer has his hand on the individual’s face, turning it towards him. There is no indication of resistance by the arrested individual.
The arrested individual is responding to the question when suddenly, at 36 seconds, the plainclothes officer strikes him in the face using his knee. The individual screams in obvious pain.
The plainclothes officers knee strikes the arrested individual’s face just below the left eye; the exact place of the injury being investigated by the SIU.
This incident is very disturbing and requires a full transparent investigation by the SIU. The SIU must, in the interests of public accountability and to restore confident in the police force, release it’s verdict and reasoning for the conclusion in a timely manner.
In the short term, the London Police Service and student leadership at Fanshawe must work to tame the mayhem in London.