SIU Concludes Investigation into Custody Injury in Sault Ste. Marie



    TORONTO, Oct. 3 /CNW/ - The Director of the Special Investigations Unit,
James Cornish, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to believe
that an officer with the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service officer committed an
offence in connection with a dog bite injury sustained by a male during the
course of his arrest.
    On June 11, 2008 at approximately 3 a.m., police responded to reports of
two men stealing from cars and garden sheds in the area of Promenade Drive.
Officers, assisted by the Canine Unit, commenced a track and searched the
bushes and streets in the residential subdivision near Park Place Drive and
Lake Street on the northeast side of the city. They spotted two males on
bicycles, one of whom dropped his bike and fled on foot into the dense bush
and trees. The other man was arrested riding his bike on Village Court.
    Held on a lead by his police handler, the police service dog located the
man who had laid down in the darkness. There was no artificial light or
moonlight at that time.
    Officers trained their flashlights on the man and saw that the dog had a
hold of him by the neck. The handler threw himself on top of the dog, grabbed
the animal's jaws and pried the dog's mouth open. Twenty-year-old Justin
Landry was rushed to the Sault Ste. Marie Health Centre where he was initially
treated for his neck injury. He was later transferred by air ambulance to St.
Michael's hospital in Toronto for specialized treatment of injuries to his
throat and larynx. He will undergo follow-up surgery to determine the extent
of damage to his trachea.
    Mr. Cornish noted: "I am satisfied in the circumstances that the subject
officer - the dog handler - was justified in his decision to commence a track
of the male. There is also no suggestion in the evidence that the subject
officer was criminally negligent in directing and handling the police dog. The
officer kept the dog on a lead at all times and ensured that the lead remained
taut. The only time the lead slackened was when the dog came upon the male. It
should also be noted that the officer took immediate action to remove the dog
from the male when he saw that the dog had bitten the male's neck."
    During its investigation, the SIU reviewed the Sault Ste. Marie Police
Service communication tapes and the Service's policy on Use of the Canine
Unit, training and equipment. The policy states that police dogs are trained
to "bite and hold" but not specifically trained to bite above the shoulders;
however, in this case, the man was laying down when the dog located him.

    The SIU is a civilian agency that investigates cases of serious injuries
(including allegations of sexual assault) and deaths involving the police.
Pursuant to section 113 of the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU is
mandated to consider whether a criminal offence has been committed by an
officer(s) in connection with the incident under investigation and, where
warranted by the evidence, to cause a criminal charge or charges to be laid
against the officer(s). The Director reports the results of investigations to
the Attorney General.





For further information:

For further information: John Yoannou, SIU Communications, Service des
communications, UES, Telephone, No de telephone: (416) 622-2342 or, ou
1-800-787-8529; For general information about the SIU, please visit our
website at www.siu.on.ca

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