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The director of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit is confident that charges are warranted after a suspect was kicked in the face during a Toronto Police raid last fall – but because the police watchdog agency was unable to identify the officer who did it, no charges will be laid.

On Oct. 23, 2017, the Toronto Police Service’s emergency task force executed a search warrant at the North York home of a 24-year-old university student who had allegedly sold drugs to an undercover officer. The student had also allegedly offered to obtain and sell him a gun. It was just before 11:30 p.m. when a lineup of officers – all in matching uniform and most of them wearing balaclavas, according to the SIU report – flooded into the bungalow through an unlocked side door.

The 24-year-old complainant and another man – his uncle – were in separate bedrooms when the team rushed in. When they entered the hallway, police told them both to get on the ground. The two men complied and lay on their stomachs as four officers stepped over them to clear rooms at the end of the hall.

Another four officers arrived to gain access to the basement. Eventually, the two men were handcuffed and the uncle was moved into a bedroom. The 24-year-old remained on the hallway floor. Additional officers then entered the home to complete the search and when one officer took custody of the 24-year-old to arrest him, the officer noticed that he had cuts to his left eye and nose, swelling under his left eye and a bloody nose. The 24-year-old told the officer he’d been kicked in the face.

He was taken to Humber River Hospital where he was diagnosed with multiple nose fractures. The province’s Special Investigations Unit, which investigates all cases involving a police officer and a civilian that result in serious injury, death or allegations of sexual assault, was notified four days later.

The 24-year-old (who is not identified in the SIU report) said he thought he was kicked because he’d moved his head after an officer yelled for him to look away. He could not provide any distinctive features of the officer who kicked him – which the director noted is reasonable, given that the officers were wearing nearly identical uniforms and face coverings.

In his report, SIU Director Tony Loparco said that while he found the complainant to be credible and reliable, and that a charge for assault causing bodily harm against the officer would be appropriate, he was “unfortunately … unable to identify the specific officer who committed the impugned act and therefore no charges will be laid.”

In an e-mail response to an interview request Wednesday, Toronto Police spokesperson Caroline de Kloet said the force is conducting a continuing investigation into this allegation.

“It is normal procedure we conduct a parallel investigation in SIU matters,” she said.

Though 26 police officers were interviewed by the SIU, none described using any kind of force on the complainant. Some of them offered alternative explanations for the man’s injuries (such as that his face may have hit the wall on his way down, or that an officer had accidentally made contact with his face while stepping over him).

Mr. Loparco said he does "not believe the complainant’s injury was caused accidentally because an officer who accidentally contacted the complainant with enough force to fracture his nose would almost certainly have remembered doing so. It seems more likely that the injury was caused by an officer kicking the complainant as he alleges, and that the officer did not disclose the kick because it was intentional.”

At most, Mr. Loparco said, he was able to narrow down the pool of potential offending officers to eight. None of the officers are named in the report.

“While the officers were acting within the course of their lawful duties during the execution of a search warrant, I am unable to conclude that the force used against the complainant was reasonable or necessary,” he said.

“I believe that the force was unnecessary, excessive and amounted to an assault."

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