London police sergeant suspended 25 days for kicking, punching restrained woman

A London police sergeant with 26 years experience on the job was suspended 25 days without pay on Friday after pleading guilty to charges under the Police Services Act, including using unnecessary force against a prisoner.

Sgt. Peter Paquette, 50, pleaded guilty during a disciplinary hearing at London police headquarters to three counts, including two of discreditable conduct, in connection to an incident that occurred on Sept. 6, 2016, in the force’s cells.

In addition to the suspension, Paquette will have to complete mandated training sessions, and will have to provide a medical outlining he is fit to return to work.

Paquette was also charged with assault under the Criminal Code for the incident. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a conditional discharge for two years, in addition to 100 hours community service and counselling. Paquette has completed both, police say.

According to an agreed statement of facts issued at the hearing, a young woman had been arrested for several offences, including public intoxication and assaulting a police officer, and was admitted to the detention unit at police headquarters at 6:14 a.m. where Paquette was on duty. Two constables and a cadet escorted her into the booking area.

As she was being booked, the woman refused to identify herself or answer questions. Paquette was asking, became agitated, stood up, and struck her head against the wall of the booking area, according to the document.

To keep her from injuring herself further, the document says the officers attempted to restrain her and placed her to the ground where she began to struggle, attempted to turn over, and kicked one of the constables in the stomach area. Her hands and legs were then restrained.

While the victim was being held, Paquette kicked her in the lower back, telling her to “smarten up.” He then applied his foot near her head. “You kick my officers, I kick you,” Paquette told the victim, before grabbing her by the arms and carrying her to a restraint stretcher.

As she was being carried, the victim bit Paquette’s left hand. Paquette “threw the victim onto the stretcher and punched her in the face once with a closed hammer fist,” the document says. After getting more restraint strapping, Paquette kicked the victim in the lower back, and following an “inappropriate” verbal exchange, Paquette said he would punch her in the face again if he had to.

As the victim was restrained with a spit mask — she had made motions to spit at officers — Paquette restrained her head movement by putting his forearm on her left jaw area. She was later taken to hospital but did not suffer any broken bones or lacerations.

Paquette’s actions brought discredit upon the force’s reputation, and will negatively impact the public’s trust in London police, the document says. During the hearing, Paquette read aloud a letter of apology to the victim, her family and her friends.

According to police, it’s not the first time the sergeant has been disciplined by the force. An incident in July 2015 led to a count of discreditable conduct against Paquette, for which he was disciplined in May 2017. It’s unclear what occurred during the incident, and how Paquette was disciplined.

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