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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Police Brutality at University of Western Ontario

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Oct 15, 2009

LONDON, Ont. – Officials at the University of Western Ontario in this southwestern Ontario city are defending the violent arrest of a student captured on a video circulating on YouTube.

The video shows the student being held down in a campus building on Wednesday and pummelled by at least five campus and city police officers.

Officers are seen kneeing the student aggressively in the torso, beating him on the back with batons and punching him hard up to a dozen times.

At least one officer is heard yelling "Stop resisting," and then, "Give us your arm."

Elgin Austen, the head of campus police, told a news conference Thursday that by the time he arrived during the arrest, he didn't see "anything out of order" with the level of force being applied.

"It was being conducted consistent with the Ontario Police College and the training that officers have there."

He added that people seeing just the video alone "may not understand what the officers were actually doing."

"What the officers were doing was trying to apprehend a strong individual ... and not injure that person and keep other people around safe."

Austen said the incident began on the seventh and eighth floors of the social sciences building, well before the video was shot.

He said the suspect "was creating safety concerns" on the upper floors and had barricaded himself inside a room.

"Eventually, everything came down to the main floor," where efforts were made to subdue a "disoriented individual."

The student, described as about 6 foot 2 inches and more than 200 pounds, was taken to hospital for observation, then released into custody.

Charged with mischief under $5,000, assaulting a peace officer, resisting arrest and escaping lawful custody is Irnes Zeljkovic, of London.

University spokeswoman Gitta Kulczycki added that the incident needs to be kept in context. The main concern of police was protecting students and faculty, she said.

"The view of the video itself is somewhat disturbing without knowing the context of the full situation," she said.

"In terms of what were the officers trying to do – let's recognize what was occurring."

Kulczycki said an automatic review is conducted in situations like these.

"We will certainly co-operate fully with London police as that occurs," she said

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