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Toronto-area cop temporarily demoted after firing energy weapon at patient hospitalized for mental health: tribunal

A Peel Police shoulder patch is seen in Mississauga, Ont., on Saturday, July 1, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey A Peel Police shoulder patch is seen in Mississauga, Ont., on Saturday, July 1, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey
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A Toronto-area police officer has been temporarily demoted after firing an energy weapon at a patient while their back was turned at a Brampton hospital.

Const. Caroline Desmeules of Peel Regional Police will serve 10 months as the reduced rank of ‘2nd Class Constable,’ down from ‘1st Class Constable,’ after pleading guilty to one count of unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority to the service’s disciplinary tribunal at a January hearing.

The incident took place in December 2022 at Brampton Civic Hospital, according to an Agreed Statement of Facts included in the tribunal decision.

While at the hospital in relation to a Mental Health Act detention, Desmeules heard another detained patient “screaming and banging on the walls,” according to the document.

She was advised by security guards that the other patient, identified in the proceedings only as ‘A.A.’ was “6’4, 320 pounds and had caused problems earlier in the day," it reads.

While A.A. was later being escorted through the halls of the hospital to the washroom, he began to walk towards Desmeules.

The patient was then restrained by two security guards, who turned him around and began to walk the other way. While A.A.’s back was turned, Desmeules fired her Taser and struck A.A., the tribunal heard.

A.A. fell over and landed on his chest.

According to the decision, Desmeules then ordered A.A., still restrained by security guards, to place his hands behind his back.

“He did not immediately comply, and she deployed her CEW a second time,” it reads.

Lawyers for Desmeules argued that the incident was “not driven by malice or bad faith, but rather by fear and misjudgment.”

The presiding Hearing Officer, Taufic Saliba, wrote that "although the initial information that was relayed to Desmeules regarding AA would reasonably place her in a heightened state of awareness, she is trained to continuously reassess the situation and react accordingly to any escalation or conversely any de-escalation in his behaviour.”

“It is clear that she did not do this," Saliba continued.

In giving her statement to investigators, Desmeules “acknowledged that she made a mistake in judging the situation to be assaultive," Saliba wrote.

"She cooperated with the internal investigation, displayed genuine remorse, and plead guilty in the process," the decision reads.

In turn, Saliba wrote she felt "confidence that Desmeules can move on from this incident and continue to develop and serve the community."

On Nov. 17, 2024, Desmeules will be reinstated to her prior rank. 

When reached for comment, Peel Regional Police said it "holds its members to a high standard of professionalism" and "is committed to taking the appropriate actions as prescribed by the Police Services Act (PSA) to address instances of officer misconduct."

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