The Public Complaints Commission is siding with an aboriginal man who claimed a pair of Regina police officers used excessive force against him.
Simon Ash-Moccasin first made the complaint in December 2014 after claiming officers incorrectly identified him as a suspect in relation to the theft and sale of a television where an aboriginal man was described as the offender. Officers were said to have handcuffed him before shoving him in the back of a police cruiser.
“Mr. Ash-Moccasin’s complaint of excessive force and the way in which he was treated was substantiated,” announced PCC Chair Brent Cotter.
In the PCC’s decision, Cotter explained how Ash-Moccasin was inaccurately identified and was eventually released once police received more information.
Cotter revealed that the description of Ash-Moccasin was “noticeably inconsistent” with the description of the suspect.
During the course of the investigation, the PCC referred the case to the public prosecution office which found that no criminal charges needed to be laid.
“Their view was that it was not in the public interest to prosecute,” said Cotter.
Cotter facilitated a meeting between Police Chief Troy Hagen and Ash-Moccasin this week.
Hagen is accepting responsibility on behalf of his officers, calling it a mistake in good faith. He has since apologized to Ash-Moccasin.
“It was an error. Errors can happen and we’re not perfect. I’ve never said this organization is perfect. We’re accountable when we do make mistakes. I’m being accountable today,” the chief admitted.
Hagen also spoke to whether the officers would receive any disciplinary action.
“No, it was considered obviously, but under the circumstances I believed it was more of a training deficiency.”
On that front, Hagen described how all officers within the service, not just the two directly involved with this incident, will receive more training in the areas of arrest and detention. He said it is part of education the officers would have already received before, but a refresher is always helpful in a job where laws are continually changing.
The chief said officers did not account for the use of force in their reports as explicitly as what could have been documented. As well, he insisted there’s no evidence to suggest race had anything to do with the incident, adding it was not a street check situation.
Over the course of the year the PCC will investigate anywhere between 125 and 150 cases. Cotter said roughly 10 per cent are found to be substantiated. The commission is a five-person, non-police body appointed by the government to handle complaints against municipal officers, ensuring both the public and police receive a fair and thorough investigation.