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Toronto-area cop temporarily demoted after entering peace bond on assault charges, 'openly' mocking civilian with mental health issues

Peel Regional Police headquarters is seen in this undated photo. Peel Regional Police headquarters is seen in this undated photo.

A Toronto-area police officer has been temporarily demoted after entering a peace bond on allegations of domestic assault and admitting to mocking a man in custody who was suffering from mental health issues.

Peel Regional Police Const. Pawandeep Sandhu was demoted to the rank of third-class constable for six months after pleading guilty to four counts of discreditable conduct and one count of breach of trust at a professional disciplinary hearing in January.

Sandhu has served with PRP since 2016 and, at the time of the hearing, held the rank of first-class constable. The allegations against Sandhu stem from conduct that took place both on and off-duty over a three-year period between 2018 and 2021, according to tribunal filings.

Two of the five misconduct counts resulted from criminal charges laid against Sandhu in 2021 after two separate altercations with a woman referred to solely as "AA" in the decision.

During those disputes, Sandhu was alleged to have choked and threatened the woman with whom, he told the tribunal, he had been romantically involved for several years. In 2022, he agreed to a two-and-a-half-year peace bond and the criminal charges were withdrawn.

The third count of misconduct stemmed from an incident in 2020 in which Sandhu was found to have “mocked” a private citizen during a mental health apprehension. On July 28, Sandhu sent a text message and video clip to AA that depicted a man who had a misspelled tattoo, according to the filings.

“You don’t even know how to spell 'humble.' If you’re going to tattoo yourself, you dumb f**k, make sure you know how to spell 'humble,'” Sandhu said in the video clip, according to the decision.

Upon receipt, AA recognized the man in custody as her neighbour, who she said struggled with mental health issues.

About a year later, Sandhu sent another text message to AA, this time depicting confidential evidence in a PRP investigation – a photo of a silver and black handgun seized during the officer’s police duties, the tribunal found.

Lastly, the tribunal heard that in 2021, Sandhu attempted to use his police badge to circumvent COVID-19 vaccination requirements after he was denied entry to a hotel in York Region.

At the hearing, prosecutor Keegan Soles argued that Sandhu's conduct was aggravated by the involvement of criminal assault allegations.

“Assaultive behaviour in a domestic or any other context by a police officer is in contravention of the oath he has taken to fulfill these statutory duties,” the decision reads. “Violent behaviour is unacceptable in society, and domestic assault is considered particularly abhorrent. As such this must be considered as grave misconduct.”

Soles also called Sandhu’s decision to “openly mock” and record a member of the public amid a mental health crisis “highly discreditable.”

Lawyers for Sandhu acknowledged there is "no excuse" for the officer's conduct, but argued he was struggling personally at the time.

In Sandhu’s defence, lawyers highlighted several prior positive performance appraisals from the service, including two commendations for his involvement in the recovery of a stolen tractor trailer and during a shooting investigation. They also pointed to a history of volunteer work in the community.

Sandhu’s lawyers also reminded the tribunal that the criminal charges levied against him were ultimately withdrawn in lieu of a peace bond.

“As such, there was no admission of criminality or assaultive behaviour,” they submitted.

According to the decision, Sandhu was under the impression the nature of the assault allegations “would be held in confidence” and did not expect them to come to light during the disciplinary proceedings. He described the relationship and period of time it covered as “tumultuous.”

In a direct address to the tribunal, Sandu said he was taking accountability for his actions.

“Mistakes were made. Accountability is key and that’s what I’m here to do today,” Sandhu said. “I plead guilty and I understand the counts that are put in front of me.”

The officer also spoke of a desire to return to work.

“Lastly, I’d like to say that the passion is still there…it hasn’t gone away. I am looking forward to coming back soon. I respect your decision. I am thankful and grateful that you’re taking into consideration for me to come back. I’m excited to come back and do the job that I love,” he said.

Saliba acknowledged Sandhu’s guilty plea and apology, and concluded that rehabilitation was a possibility for the officer “should he learn from this experience, return to work, and commit to abiding by the service’s policies.”

“He may also avail himself to any training and supports that are available,” he continued.

Sandhu’s demotion came into effect on Jan. 31. Top Stories

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