TORONTO – A public spat between several police agencies in Ontario may soon see a resolution.
Ontario’s police watchdog accuses the Toronto police of impeding an investigation into a beating allegation against one of its officers.
The Special Investigations Unit says the Toronto Police Service refused to hand over a man’s original complaint and said without that document the investigation had to be closed because it couldn’t be fully completed.
A Toronto police spokesman says the man’s complaint was forwarded to them by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and they cannot give the SIU third-party documents.
The two agencies issued competing statements Wednesday in which they both also said they had tried and failed to get the document from the OIPRD.
That office suggested there was a simple solution, saying they could only give a copy of a complaint to whoever made it, so Ian Scott, the director of the SIU, now says that is what they will do in order to reopen the case.
“We are going to reach out to the complainant and request that he contact the OIPRD for the purpose of receiving a copy of his original statement, and that he then forward it to the SIU,” Scott said Thursday in a statement.
“If the unit receives a copy of the original statement from the complainant, we will reopen this investigation.”
Tyrone Phillips, 27, filed a complaint on Aug. 8 with the OIPRD, alleging he was beaten unconscious when he was arrested outside a Toronto nightclub on July 28.
The OIPRD forwarded his complaint to Toronto police on Sept. 19, and on Oct. 12 the police referred the complaint to the SIU, which investigates reports of death, serious injury or sexual assault.
Phillips does not have his own copy of the complaint because it was submitted through an online form.
“I might add that asking the complainant to go through these steps could have been avoided if TPS had simply provided the SIU with a copy of his original statement pursuant to his signed consent,” Scott wrote in his statement Thursday.
“This process no doubt adds stress to Mr. Phillips’ personal circumstances — he reportedly sustained a concussion as a result of his arrest on July 28, and has led to delays in this investigation. Police services in other cases have provided to us, with no issue, the original complaint filed by the complainant to the OIPRD.”
Mark Pugash, director of Toronto police corporate communications, said Wednesday that the force doesn’t have any authority to release a third-party document.
“The only way we can release it is if we get the OIPRD’s permission,” he said in an interview.
The OIPRD only releases information to complainants and affected police services, not the SIU.