WARNING: This story contains disturbing content that may be triggering for some readers.
A family celebration ended in a violent altercation with Orillia OPP officers in downtown Orillia this weekend.
In the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 9, a 33-year-old man, who was in Orillia for a family celebration, was catching up with some of his friends at a local restaurant in downtown Orillia, when he claims a passerby started yelling homophobic slurs at him.
“The homophobic comments had left me feeling vulnerable and unsafe, prompting me to reach out to the Orillia police for assistance,” the victim explained of his impetus to dial 911.
Orillia OPP officers responded to the call just outside The Study Hall Pub, located on Mississaga Street.
“As the police arrived, I expected relief and protection, but instead I was met with indifference and hostility,” said the victim. “Astonishingly, the officers decided to arrest me on the grounds of public intoxication, completely disregarding my plea for support and ignoring the fact that I had initiated the call for help.”
When the arrest became violent, multiple bystanders started recording the incident on their cellphones, despite threats of arrest by other officers at the scene.
The videos were later posted to social media.
The three video clips of the incident show the victim on the ground screaming for help, while OPP officers can be seen punching the man in the face and stomach while using a taser multiple times.
“I endured not only multiple taser shocks, but also physical assault and verbal taunts from the very officers who were meant to protect me,” the victim said.
The videos show the man being physically forced into the back seat of an OPP cruiser.
“Back at the station, I was subjected to uncomfortable conditions in a cell. I desperately pleaded for medical attention, only to have my requests callously denied,” said the victim.
In the end, the ordeal resulted in significant head injuries and bleeding, exacerbated by an incident where an officer is alleged to have violently slapped the cell door flap onto the victim's hands, causing further injury.
The man is now facing multiple charges by the Orillia OPP.
According to a media release, on Sept. 9, shortly before 3 a.m., members of the Orillia detachment were called to a bar on Mississaga Street East by a patron at that location.
During the investigation and after repeated attempts by officers to peacefully resolve the situation, the person who initially called the OPP was arrested for public intoxication, resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a police officer with intent to resist arrest, notes the release.
"The OPP is aware that a privately recorded video of an incident was made available to the public through social media," notes the media release. "This incident is an example of calls our officers respond to when individuals resist arrest.
"This video captures only a portion of the event and shows the responding officer selecting the most appropriate use of force option to address the immediate situation, exposing the subject, public and officer to the lowest level of risk," stated the release.
The accused is scheduled to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Orillia on Oct. 24, 2023.
When family members and members of the public posted videos of the incident to social media, many commented with outrage.
“I had to stop watching this … this is disgusting!!!” wrote Steph Parker in a Facebook comment.
Her comment was echoed by hundreds of others who also issued a call for justice.
“All officers involved should be charged and fired,” wrote another person who commented.
“The whole situation was supposed to be a simple one of showing up, possibly talking to the complainant about the original incident, and possibly talking to the person who made the homophobic slurs, but that original and more serious situation went on like nothing happened,” said another person.
The injured man said he has not decided if he will pursue charges against the officers.
“This haunting experience underscores the pressing need for accountability and reform within our law enforcement,” he said.