CORNWALL, Ontario – A trio of Cornwall police officers are being investigated after a city man with developmental delays was severely injured while being arrested at the train station earlier this month.
The province’s special investigations unit (SIU) has designated six investigators, including an individual who specializes in forensics, to get to the bottom of how the 43-year-old man ended up with a broken rib and other injuries following an arrest May 17.
Four other Cornwall officers who may have information related to the incident are also being interviewed by the SIU.
The incident, which took place around 10 p.m., has sparked concern at Open Hands, a local agency with whom the man has ties through social support.
“We expressed many concerns” to Cornwall police, said Open Hands executive director Dave Ferguson in an interview, suggesting the man was Tasered twice by police during the course of an arrest. “He does enjoy trains and has a habit of going on a walk to the train station to calm himself down.
“Certainly we don’t believe there was anything to justify what happened.
“It’s a very serious situation.”
Cornwall police chief Dan Parkinson would not comment on the incident.
“I can’t, the (Police) Act does not allow it. Only the SIU can comment,” he said.
It’s unclear what prompted police to attend the train station to confront the man in the first place. The names of the officers being investigated have not been released.
Ferguson said Open Hands wants to ensure the man receives the advice and support of a lawyer as this incident unfolds.
“He needs strong advocacy on his behalf,” said Ferguson.
Sgt. Dave MacLean, the president of the Cornwall Police Association, said his union supports the members.
“The CPA stands by our members and is supporting them during this investigation,” he said. “Our members are co-operating with all aspects of the investigation.”
The SIU opened its investigation into the conduct of the officers on May 18, said spokesperson Monica Hudon, adding it was the city police service that alerted the oversight agency to look into the matter.
The SIU is a provincial agency that investigates incidents when members of the public are injured by police.
The man required hospitalization following the incident.
Ferguson said he wants to keep the lines of communication open between the police service and his agency to avoid similar situations in the future.
“We have concerns with the police activities…(but) we need to have a very good relationship with police,” he said.
Parkinson did say police want something similar.
“We are always interested in working with any agency interested in the safety and security of any person,” he said.
Hudon said the SIU will continue its investigation but could not say when things will wrap up. She said if criminal charges are laid, it will come at the discretion of the SIU director.