Police watchdog clears Ottawa officers after suspect cut his own throat with box-cutter

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Ontario’s police watchdog agency has ruled against laying charges against Ottawa Police Service officers over a December incident in which a spousal assault suspect slashed his own throat with a box-cutter while his truck was parked in a retail mall lot.

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The 56-year-old man had been identified as a suspect by the Ontario Provincial Police’s Hawkesbury detachment. Tracking of his cellphone revealed he was at the mall near St. Laurent Boulevard and Montreal Road in Ottawa’s east end on the afternoon of Dec. 3.

Ottawa police officers located the man as he slept in his truck, but, when asked to leave the vehicle, he refused, brandished a box-cutter knife and sliced his own throat, said the Special Investigations Unit report released Friday.

The police officers broke the driver’s-side window, discharged a conducted energy weapon — commonly called a Taser — and removed the man from the truck to start first aid. Emergency medical service personnel arrived and transported the man to The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic campus, where his wound was sutured and he was admitted under the Mental Health Act.

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Later that day, the man was released from custody by OPP officers via an undertaking in connection with several criminal charges, the SIU report added.

The suspect and two officers who were subjects of the SIU investigation declined interviews, as was their right, but the agency did interview two other officers and a civilian witness who took five photos and recorded what Friday’s report described as a good-quality video lasting two minutes and 38 seconds.

In Friday’s ruling, SIU director Joseph Martino said the Ottawa officers were “engaged in the lawful execution of their duties. They had information from the OPP that the complainant was suicidal and wanted for domestic assault. I am further satisfied that the officers used only legally justified force in effecting the complainant’s arrest.”

Martino added that using the conducted energy weapon and forcibly pulling the man from the truck, then applying first aid, “might well have played a part in saving the complainant’s life.”

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