Skip to main content

A Toronto police constable who used a stun gun on a handcuffed man earlier this year will be temporarily demoted, a disciplinary tribunal ruled Tuesday, saying the officer appears to have learned from the incident.

Constable Ryan Kotzer will be a lower-class constable for six months as penalty for the offence, which was the sentence sought by both the defence and the prosecution.

Superintendent Riyaz Hussein, who oversaw the case, said the officer exercised poor judgment and violated the public’s trust during the Jan. 27 incident, but has accepted responsibility for his actions and demonstrated he has “the potential to reform.”

“I’m sure he has learned much from these events,” Supt. Hussein said, noting Constable Kotzer has received additional training on the appropriate use of stun guns.

Constable Kotzer apologized to the police force after receiving his sentence Tuesday, but did not otherwise speak at the hearing.

The officer pleaded guilty last month to one count of insubordination under the Police Services Act in connection with the incident. He was also charged with one count of misconduct related to the use of unnecessary force, but that charge was withdrawn.

An agreed statement of facts says Constable Kotzer had “no justification” for using his taser in “drive stun” mode – which causes pain but does not incapacitate – on the handcuffed man’s neck.

Constable Kotzer and his partner had picked up the man while responding to a call for “disorderlies” and handcuffed him with his arms behind his back, the statement says. They placed the man in the back of the cruiser, which was equipped with an in-car camera, and told him they were taking him to a shelter, it says.

On the way to the shelter, the man began kicking the window and partition of the cruiser while yelling obscenities, the statement says.

The officers pulled over and both went into the back seat from opposite sides, the document says. Constable Kotzer took out his stun gun and turned it on, then placed it on the man’s neck but did not activate it, the statement says.

Constable Kotzer warned the man he was going to get tasered and told him to relax, according to the document. The man complied and calmed down.

But when the man shifted his position in the back seat, Constable Kotzer “mistook that for an act of renewed aggression” and used his stun gun in drive stun mode, the statement says.

“He told the male to stop resisting and stop kicking. The male was not resisting or kicking at this time,” the document says. “PC Kotzer acknowledges that in the circumstances his use of the [stun gun] amounted to excessive force.”

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe