The Special Investigations Unit has cleared three Toronto police officers in a complaint from a man who suffered a broken nose and a serious eye injury during a drug bust last year.
Police entered the 40-year-old man’s home on McCowan Road in Scarborough to execute a search warrant at about 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 26, 2018.
Fabian Clarke told the Star’s Jim Rankin last December that several officers in plain clothes entered the apartment, when one male officer put his gun in his holster and “just starts swinging.”
Clarke said he needed emergency reconstructive surgery to his left eye.
It felt, he told the Star, “like my eye was coming out of my head.”
In his complaint to the Office of the Independent Review Director in December, Clarke estimated that he had been punched 20 times by a number of officers. He said he was down on the floor and recalls being kicked and held in a headlock.
In his complaint, Clarke said it was only while the officers were punching him that they identified themselves as police.
Clarke told the Star that police were looking for drugs and the brother of his roommate, who was on probation but had never lived at the Scarborough apartment. Clarke said the police didn’t find anything.
Clarke was charged with obstructing and resisting police.
Joseph Martino, the SIU’s interim director, wrote in a decision released this week that he was “unable to reasonably conclude” that the force used against Clarke “ran afoul of the limits prescribed by the criminal law.”
(Clarke was identified as “Complainant” in the SIU report, and wasn’t named.)
“The officers were entitled to search the apartment, and to take steps to ensure their safety and the preservation of evidence in so doing,” Martino wrote. “When the complainant challenged those propositions, he rendered himself subject to arrest for obstruction of justice, and the officers were within their rights in resorting to some force to take him into custody.”
Martino wrote that the medical evidence the SIU had “strongly suggests” that they would expected more injuries had Clarke been punched about 20 times in the face.
“In addition, the suggestion that the complainant was unaware from the outset that he was dealing with police officers conducting a search of his home seems implausible,” Martino wrote. “The notion that the officers would have concealed their status and purpose for nefarious reasons is at odds with the plain fact that (subject officer No. 3) and other officers were in full uniform, and those who were in plain clothes had vests with the word “police” on the front.”
Martino concluded that the force was legally justified.
“There are no grounds for proceeding with charges against any of the involved officers notwithstanding the injuries suffered by the complainant,” Martino wrote. “The file is closed.”
The Star previously reported that Clarke was later taken by ambulance for an overnight stay at the Scarborough Hospital.
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Clarke said Toronto police did not notify the SIU about his injuries. It wasn’t until a week later, on Dec. 4, 2018, that Clarke’s pro bono lawyer, George (Knia) Singh, reported the incident to the SIU.
The SIU investigates any allegations of serious injury, death or alleged sexual assault involving police.