Peel Police Officer Disciplined After Pleading Guilty to Assault

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A Peel Regional Police officer has pleaded guilty to a charge of discreditable conduct after becoming involved in a fight with another man in Pennsylvania—a fight that prompted an on-duty officer to use a taser on the Peel police constable.

According to recent ruling by hearing officer Supt. Colleen Fawcett, Constable Ryan Andrews—who has been a member of the Peel Regional Police Service since 2013 and who is currently assigned to the 12 Division Neighbourhood Policing Unit in Mississauga—will be docked five days pay due to his involvement in an incident that took place in the U.S. on Dec. 9, 2017.

The report says that on the night of Dec. 9, Andrews and a group of friends were in the entertainment district in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when one of Andrews' friends was asked to leave a nightclub due to "intoxicated behaviour."

Around 1:30 a.m., Andrews and the companion that was asked to leave the nightclub encountered a lone male party standing on the street.

According to the document, there was a verbal exchange between the friend and the man in question, and Andrews intervened in the conversation. Shortly thereafter, the altercation escalated to the point where Andrews shoved the man twice, prompting a physical fight between the three men.

At one point, the man reportedly attempted to punch Andrews and his companion and Andrews hit him in response. According to the ruling, Andrews' punch made contact with the man's head, knocking him backward to the ground. The document then says Andrews mounted the man on the ground and delivered a number of further punches to his face and head area.

Pittsburgh Police officers were present in the area and immediately responded to the assault, attempting to separate Andrews from the man.

When Andrews did not discontinue his actions, aa Pittsburgh police officer deployed his conducted energy weapon (CEW). The CEW deployment was unsuccessful and the officer ultimately used force to remove Andrews from the other man.

Once Andrews was removed from the man, additional officers were required to assist in gaining control of the constable and handcuffing him.

Andrews was arrested and charged with assault and resisting arrest, and was transported to the county jail to be held for arraignment before a magistrate.

Following his formal arraignment, Andrews was released from custody after posting bond.

On Dec. 19, 2017, Andrews appeared before a judge in the Allegany County Magisterial District Court, and entered a guilty plea to the summary offences of disorderly conduct and harassment.

On Aug.  21, 2018, Andrews appeared before Fawcett and entered a plea of guilty to one count of discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act.

Pierre Bernard, member representative for the Peel Regional Police Association, spoke on behalf of the officer and said that Andrews had taken responsibility for his actions and is remorseful.

"Constable Andrews quickly resolved the charges he was facing in the United States within ten days, by entering a guilty plea to summary offences. He has further pled guilty to the charge of Discreditable Conduct. By doing this, Constable Andrews has demonstrated that he fully recognizes the seriousness of his misconduct. He agrees that he has disappointed the Service, and he has apologized for his actions," the document reads.

Bernard added that at the time of the incident, Andrews was a first class constable with less than four years of policing experience. He had not faced any disciplinary action before the incident.

According to the ruling, Andrews has three commendations on file, and was a recipient of the 2016 Matt Parr Impaired Driver Apprehension Award.

In April 2018, he was rewarded with a Chief's Management Group Challenge Coin for his assistance to the Strategic Gang Intelligence Team for several arrests, and the seizure of several weapons and illicit drugs.

In the ruling, Fawcett said that while Andrews was off-duty and reportedly provoked by the man he fought with, his occupation means he is held to a higher standard.

"Police officers are held to a higher standard of ethical conduct and moral character," the ruling reads. "Good moral character is a standard before a candidate becomes a member of a Police Service which remains a necessary trait throughout a police officer's career. It is expected that police officers will conduct themselves at all times in accordance with the Code of Conduct."

Fawcett said that Andrews' guilty plea showed that he took his actions seriously.

"In regards to the recognition by the officer of the seriousness of the misconduct, Constable Andrews pled guilty at the earliest opportunity in the criminal proceedings and to the Police Services Act charge of Discreditable Conduct," she wrote.

"Through Mr. Bernard's submission and that of Constable Andrews to the Tribunal, Constable Andrews has demonstrated remorse and an understanding of the seriousness of his conduct. Constable Andrews has taken full responsibility for his actions and has learned from his experience. The Tribunal is assured that he will not be in such a position in the future."

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