WRPS investigating use of force in arrest video, police chief says
KITCHENER -- Waterloo regional police have launched multiple reviews and investigations into the use of force used in an arrest caught on video over the weekend.
The video, which was shared online, showed a man being pulled from a vehicle and punched by an officer.
Police Chief Bryan Larkin said there will be two external investigations into the video. However, the province's Special Investigations Unit won't be called in because the injuries weren't serious enough to notify them.
Police said the man was arrested after fleeing from police. Officers at the scene heard what they believed to be gunshots during his arrest.
"The officers believed they were under attack, that shots were fired at them," Larkin said.
Larkin added the arrest would have been reviewed automatically at several levels within the police service because it involves a use of force. There will be two separate external reviews, one by a use of force expert and another by another police agency.
"The use of force is something that quite often, from a bystander perspective, when you watch it, it does raise concerns," Larkin said.
Kitchener Centre MPP Laura Mae Lindo has raised concerns about the video, calling it deeply troubling and traumatizing.
"Nobody is feeling safe anymore," she said.
The man has been identified as a Black, Somali man. Lindo said there needs to be an independent investigation by someone who the Black community can trust.
The officer involved hasn't been suspended according to Larkin, but Lindo believes they should be.
"I would hope in the interim that it would be best to err on the side of caution and make sure that everybody is safe, because that was a very unsafe set of circumstances that we just witnessed," she said.
Larkin asked for the community to "trust in the systems that are in place."
"We'll follow the rule of law and then make appropriate decisions and take appropriate action," he said.
Lindo, however, said the systems in place aren't working.
"For the community, they want to know how this is even possible that we're witnessing this again," she said. "For the police, they need to justify that this was OK, so we're already starting to hear those justifications."
She also said there needs to be more investment in mental health supports and housing.
Lindo says she has brought her concerns about the arrest, and how it's been handled, directly to Larkin.