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Three Toronto police officers face assault charges

Const. Piara Dhaliwal, Const. John Darnell, and Const. Adam Morris are facing assault charges.

By VJOSA ISAI Toronto Star

Ontario’s police watchdog has charged three Toronto police officers with assault following an incident during a 2013 arrest — and two of the officers have been in trouble before.
A 46-year-old man was arrested at his home on Feb. 13, 2013, and was taken to a police station in the back of a police cruiser, the Special Investigations Unit said in a media release Tuesday morning.
There was “an interaction” between the man and three officers during transportation, the SIU says, and the man was taken to Humber River Regional Hospital to examine what was determined to be a serious injury. The SIU was informed of the incident in August 2015.
Const. John Darnell, Const. Piara Dhaliwal, and Const. Adam Morris are facing assault charges. They will appear in court on Nov. 3; all three officers have been suspended with pay, said Const. Meaghan Gray.
Dhaliwal was subject to a Professional Standards investigation after an Ontario Court judge found that his testimony and that of his partner to be “deliberately misleading” and added that Dhaliwal’s actions “amounted to an assault.”
Dhaliwal and Const. Akin Gul alleged they were assaulted by Abdi Sheik-Qasim while investigating a noise complaint in January 2014.
Sheik-Qasim, then 32, had taken out a cellphone to record the encounter. Within seconds, Dhaliwal knocked the phone out of Sheik-Qasim’s hand; Sheik-Qasim was then arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer and failing to comply with a court order.
The phone was seized by the officers at the time, but not returned to him after he was released from detention. However, the phone automatically uploaded video files to the cloud, and the video evidence was used during his trial.
“Officer Dhaliwal’s swing of his arm and hand was the very first physical force during the interaction. The accused didn’t grab a hold of the belt of Officer Gul in advance of this action by Officer Dhaliwal,” said Ontario Court Justice Edward Kelly, adding he had doubt it happened at all.
“I believe that Officer Dhaliwal’s action amounted to an assault against the accused,” Kelly said in a decision issued Sept. 10, 2015.
Sheik-Qasim was acquitted of both charges. It is not known what result the Professional Standards investigation produced.
Meanwhile, Gray confirmed one of the officers, Const. Adam Morris, was arrested back in 2013.Morris was pulled over on Hwy. 400 when he was approached by a York Region police officer, after having several drinks in an industrial parking lot after reporting off duty.
York police officers performed a breathalyzer test, which Morris failed. He was taken back to a station, where his gun was seized by police. Morris took two more breath tests, one showing he was exactly at the legal limit and the second showing he was over it.
He was released with no criminal charges, and instead received a three-day driving suspension.
“The decisions of certain members of the York Regional Police Service not to proceed with criminal charges against Const. Morris should in no way detract from the seriousness of this misconduct,” the prosecutor told the disciplinary hearing in 2013.
Morris apologized for his actions and told the hearing it would never happen again. He was docked 18 days pay.
The SIU investigates allegations of police involvement in any interactions resulting in sexual assault, injury, or death.
With files from Jayme Poisson, Jesse McLean, and Wendy Gillis

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