A Toronto police officer who fired her gun at an unarmed man at a parking lot in March 2017 will be demoted for three months, a police tribunal adjudicator has ruled.
The bullet never struck that man and no criminal charges were ever laid in the case, which at the time was not covered under the mandate of Ontario’s police watchdog.
A penalty of demotion from first class constable, to second class constable was jointly proposed by the prosecuting officer and defence.
Constable Anita Watton admitted last month that she did not follow Toronto police training standards and use-of-force policies.
“The misconduct of Watton was serious and the circumstances surrounding her actions involved a firearm discharge at an unarmed suspect. Her actions demonstrated a lack of judgment and were not in keeping with the expectations of a police officer,” said hearing officer Supretendent Riyaz Hussain.
However, Hussain also noted that Watton, who joined Toronto police in 2007, has an excellent record as a police officer including being repeatedly recognized for bravery. In pleading guilty, she took responsibility for her actions, he said.
“Her actions since this event, and the observations of those supervisors in a position to observe her behaviour, has demonstrated that she has the potential to reform or be rehabilitated,” Hussain said.
Around 11:00am Watton pulled the man over in a traffic stop, suspecting him of impaired driving, according to the agreed facts from her plea at the disciplinary hearing. The man ran off on foot and she chased him.
Surveillance footage from the parking lot showed Watton chasing the man while holding her gun in one hand. The video shows them both stopping briefing in the parking lot. Watton fires soon after the man turns his back on her and starts to walk away. After the shot, the man lays on the ground and is handcuffed by another officer.