|A Peterborough County OPP cruiser. (CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/QMI AGENCY)
PETERBOROUGH, ONT. - A city police officer facing multiple charges under the Police Services Act listened as a prosecutor alleged he pepper-sprayed a 16-year-old girl in the face because she taunted him and called him names.
Tuesday marked the second day of a two-day hearing for Const. Ivan Gordon Taylor. He faces charges of unnecessary use of force, discreditable conduct and insubordination. The charge of insubordination hasn’t been addressed yet.
By all accounts Taylor, a nine-year veteran of the force, walked into an unhappy situation when he was dispatched to a home in October 2011.
The homeowner called 911 when her then-16-year-old granddaughter smashed dishes and got into a violent altercation with her sister. The woman hoped police would calm the situation down.
Lawyers for both sides gave their closing arguments Tuesday before hearing superintendent Robert Fitches.
Taylor’s lawyer, Gary Clewley, argued his client was responding to a volatile situation and relied on his training and right to use justifiable force when he perceived a threat to his safety.
Clewley described the girl at the centre of the allegations as a troubled teen who has had 39 run-ins with police since 2008, with a long-standing opposition to authority.
According to the 911 call, played Monday, the grandmother was heard repeatedly asking the girl to stop. The girl could be heard yelling in the background, Clewley said, and continued that behaviour despite the fact she knew police were coming.
Taylor’s actions in the moment he arrived at the house are central to the allegations against him.
Clewley said the prosecution wants people to believe that an “emotional miracle” happened, and the girl simply stopped yelling and calmed down.
But that’s just not the case, he said.
The girl, seated at the kitchen table when Taylor arrived, refused to show the officer her hands, Clewley said, sparking a concern that she could have access to a weapon.
“So the question becomes, what was Taylor to do?” Clewley said.
Based on the charges against him, the police administration expected him to do nothing, Clewley said.
But that’s not reasonable, he argued.
Clewley said Taylor took the girl by the arm and then took her to the ground where she continued to struggle with him, so he pepper-sprayed her to demobilize her.
Taylor didn’t punch her, Clewley said, nor did he use his baton.
Prosecutor Glenn Christie’s take on the situation was much different.
He described the girl as a troubled child who was half Taylor’s size.
He said the catalyst for Taylor's actions was a comment she made to Taylor when he walked in the house.
Everyone agrees the girl was seated at the kitchen table when Taylor arrived, and Christie said it’s a sign that the girl was calming down.
Christie said the girl called Taylor a "crooked cop."
“Boom. She’s off the chair, on the floor, pepper-sprayed and out the door,” Christie said. “That’s what happened.”
He also argued that Taylor already had the girl on the ground when he pepper-sprayed her.
“He had her on the ground. In the way he was trained to do. He’s twice her size,” Christie said. “But he sprayed her anyway.”
The hearing has been adjourned until Dec. 20, when hearing superintendent Robert Fitches will give his decision.