Four Lambton OPP cleared after St. Clair man’s nose broken during arrest

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The director of the Special Investigation Unit says four Lambton OPP officers did “what was reasonably necessary” to arrest a man in St. Clair Township despite breaking his nose and a bone in his face.

Joseph Martino cleared the unnamed officers in a report today.

On March 1, Lambton OPP were notified of a stolen pickup. They also suspected where it might be going. So around 8:30 that morning, one officer went looking for the truck at a rural property police knew had stolen goods.

The police officer saw a 32 year-old man, who jumped into the pickup in what Martino says was an attempt to flee. Two of the officers reached him “just as he reached into the driver’s seat area and started the ignition.” 

Two of the officers tried to wrestle him out “through the open driver’s door” but the man “would not release his grip of the steering wheel despite being punched multiple times,” says Martino in the report.

Police told SIU investigators the man continued to struggle as officers got him out of the truck and they continued to hit him as they tried to hand cuff him.

When they did arrest him, they brought him to the Petrolia OPP station where video surveillance shows “blood around his nose, scrapes to the right side of his forehead and swelling around his right eye.”

The man refused medical attention, but was later taken to CEEH and then Bluewater Health where he was diagnosed with a broken nose and possibly a fractured orbital bone. More injuries were discovered later in the week.

While the injuries were clear, Martino found police acted within the law saying “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.”

Martino added;”Given what the officers knew of the area – that it was known to house stolen items, the complainant’s presence in the area, and the complainant’s flight into the stolen vehicle at the sight of police, it appears the officers had grounds giving rise to a reasonable belief that the complainant was implicated in a theft-related offense” and the OPP officers were “within the range of what was reasonably necessary in the circumstances given the nature and extent of the complainant’s physical struggle.”