BARRIE, ONT. — The Ontario Provincial Police will investigate a violent arrest in Barrie, Ont., that was captured on video and quickly circulated on social media on Thursday.
“In an effort to ensure the process is transparent and accountable, I have asked the Ontario Provincial Police to conduct the investigation into the events that took place in Barrie on February 4,” said Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood.
In the video, the officer struggles on the ground with 20-year-old Skyler Kent and holds what appears to be a stun gun while threatening to “light [him] up.”
The cellphone video, recorded by a bystander, shows the officer hitting Kent on the head with the device as he continues to hold him to the ground.
“I feel like it’s an injustice. It shouldn’t have happened,” Kent said.
While the video doesn’t show what happened leading up to the arrest, Kent said he rode his skateboard through a red light at Barrie’s Five Points, and that’s when police pulled him over.
Kent said it took 20 to 30 minutes for police to issue him the ticket, and when they did, he skateboarded away, calling the officers names as he left.
“After I left with the ticket, he put the lights on again,” he said. “I tried to keep going because I figured he can’t pull me over twice in a row like that, and then he slams on the brakes after getting in front of me, and I ran into the back of him.”
That’s when Kent said the incident that was caught on video began.
“I was resisting, but I wasn’t trying to fight him. There was no part of me that was trying to hit him or hurt him.
I just didn’t understand why I was being arrested for something that was a traffic violation,” he said.
Kent also admitted he was arguing with police, “I’m not gonna act like I didn’t have a mouth on me,” he said.
Police charged the 20-year-old with causing a disturbance and assault with an attempt to resist arrest. He was released with a promise to appear and an undertaking.
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman tweeted on Thursday night that he watched the “violent arrest” video and that he “won’t be ignoring this.”
Lehman added, “there will be full accountability.”
On Friday, Chief Greenwood said the video was concerning “to both the public and myself.”
CTV Security Expert Chris Lewis said when officers make a lawful arrest, they need to handcuff the individual and place them in the cruiser for safety purposes.
“And delivering blows, punches or knees, sometimes to someone on the ground that you can’t get control of, and you can’t get their arms behind their back is not unheard of, and it’s been ruled as being acceptable use of force.
In this case, the question will be, is smashing someone’s head into the ground, or hitting them in the head with a taser considered to be acceptable blows in relation in trying to get control of someone,” Lewis said.
Barrie police said the officer involved had been reassigned to “alternate duties pending the outcome of the investigation.”
CTV News asked Barrie Police Services if the officer involved was wearing a body camera at the time of the incident and was told the pilot project for body cameras ended the day before the arrest.
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