The OPP’s top local cop says he’s reviewed a video that shows “a part of the apprehension process” of a man experiencing a mental-health crisis in Midland.
“We want to reassure our community that we take the actions of our officers very seriously,” Southern Georgian Bay OPP interim detachment commander Insp. Tim Tatchell said of the Friday evening incident that began near Hugel Ave. and Norene St. and came to end a few blocks further east.
“We have reviewed the incident to ensure our officers acted within their training and legal authority,” Tatchell said via a recording on the force’s Facebook site.
During the three-minute arrest video, two officers seem to have difficulty arresting a man following a report to police of a person's “bizarre behaviour."
Tatchell said the two responding officers had concerns for the man’s safety during the arrest that also saw them employ a conducted energy weapon.
“After attempts at communication were unsuccessful, he continued to act in an erratic manner putting himself and others at risk,” Tatchell said. "Officers utilized their training to assess the situation, attempt to de-escalate and apprehend the man under the Mental Health Act for his own safety and without injury.”
But Kiara Parsons said the video shot by her mother Stephanie Hibberd shows evidence of “police brutality.”
Parsons, who said she witnessed the incident along with her mother and another person, noted the man’s resistance to being arrested is “all besides the point.”
“There was unjustified excessive force used,” she said. “Instead of handcuffing him the multiple times they could've, they instead bring him to his feet, where they then can't cuff him as he clearly is having a mental health episode saying he was scared.
“The one officer then proceeds to knee him in the face twice with excessive force. The suspect was significantly shorter and smaller than the two officers.
“They acted without a plan, unlawfully, without teamwork, and with unjustifiable excessive force.”
Tatchell, however, went on to say that after the arrest, officers immediately brought the man to Georgian Bay General Hospital so he could receive appropriate care.
“Later that evening, officers responded to an emergency call from the hospital as the man continued to pose a safety risk to himself, hospital staff and others in the emergency department.”
Tatchell said the particular incident is an example of officers responding to a situation involving a person in crisis.
“The OPP remains committed to ensuring our officers are equipped with the up-to-date training and the appropriate tools to prioritize the safety of everyone involved,” Tatchell said.
According to Tatchell, Southern Georgian Bay is one of 60 OPP detachments, which have created mobile crisis response teams. These units partner a crisis health worker with a police officer to respond to calls with a mental health component.
“When these teams are unavailable, uniform officers respond to these calls,” he said.
“We are dedicated to continuing discussions with our partners to look at ways to expand the mobile crisis response teams, which provide community members in crisis with the appropriate resources and support.”