Toronto police officer charged with assaulting homeless woman

After just over six months on the job, a Toronto police officer has been charged with assaulting a woman and using excessive force to arrest her at the clearing of a downtown homeless encampment.

The officer, Cpl. Ryan Larmour, is accused of using an officer who was already handcuffed against the woman, and then against other citizens during the clearing. The woman said she was assaulted by both officers and other people while being handcuffed, and after her release, he was found with two black eyes and multiple cuts to his face. The investigation is ongoing, and Larmour could face other charges of aggravated assault and assault causing bodily harm.

The woman, Joanna Kanellis, alleges that Larmour and another officer grabbed her by the neck and covered her mouth to cover the sound of her asking for help in February.

“I cried loudly because of my panic,” she said in a statement, according to The Toronto Star.

The officer’s colleague, Cpl. Jake Lewis, defended Larmour’s actions at the time.

“I have never seen anything, heard anything, from that officer that would indicate that something like that happened,” he said.

Jahél Kimmell, the acting leader of the Toronto Police Association, told the Toronto Star that Larmour had been unfairly maligned.

“He’s a fine member of our service,” he said. “In our view, this is nothing more than a political witch hunt.”

The Canadian government’s review of the incident was prompted by the inquiry into the death of Kimmell’s father, Fidel Larmour, a 67-year-old mentally ill man who died in a police cell just a week after being arrested. The man was detained on unrelated drug charges and was locked in a cell with a man whom he reportedly witnessed being beaten by police.

In an interview with the CBC at the time, his son expressed concern that police, who had earlier tried to speak to him, had come to the wrong location and disregarded his requests for help.

“I said, ‘please can you at least come down here,’ ” he said. “But they went straight to the initial [a cell] without even apologizing or telling me if they were there for my dad or not.”

The province of Ontario is reviewing policies on how the government handles civil complaints involving police.

Read the full story at The Toronto Star.

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