Video shows police officer punching Métis man with intellectual disabilities

OPP say it’s launched two internal reviews

Police cellblock video recently obtained by APTN News shows an Ontario Provincial Police officer repeatedly punching a Métis man in the head while in a jail cell as two other officers look on.

The incident happened more than a year ago in Bracebridge, Ont., about 200 km north of Toronto.

The officer’s notes, however, don’t mention the strikes in the cell, according to court records.

Const. Scott Anthony wrote in his notes on the night of June 21, 2022 that there was an “exchange of empty hand blows until in cell”.

Details of the altercation end there.

Video shows that prisoner Ronnie Taylor was punched more than dozen times inside the cell.

“I think I could have died that night with what he did to me,” Taylor told APTN in an interview.

About 30 seconds after the last strike, and after all three officers have left the cell, Taylor stands up only to sit back down and then collapse onto the floor.

His legs and body shake as it appears he’s having a seizure, but no one comes to check on him in the video that is more than 40 minutes long.

“I remember getting a twitch in my neck and then everything went black in my eyes and I couldn’t see a thing and I don’t really remember much,” Taylor recounted.

“I got up and it was almost like I didn’t know what went on.”

Ronnie Taylor is seen on the floor of his cell after police punched him in the head more than a dozen times.

APTN obtained a total of four videos from inside the detachment that shed more light on what went on that night after Taylor was transferred there from hospital where he was treated for wounds to his hands in relation to a domestic incident earlier that evening.

Taylor faces a slew charges, including assault and uttering threats, involving the domestic.

Taylor’s lawyer, Jay Herbert of Falls Law Group, applied for a stay of the charges on May 2, 2023 alleging police used excessive force against his client. Herbert included the videos in the application that is scheduled to be heard in court next spring.

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It was through the application that APTN first sought the videos, but Justice E.A. Carlton ordered APTN to file its own application for a hearing to determine if the videos would be released. The hearing was held before Justice Cecile Applegate on June 20, who ordered the videos to be released on June 29. Applegate’s decision is at the bottom of this story.

The first video shows Taylor being led into the booking area by two different officers who have him sit on a chair while handcuffed.

They appear to be saying something, but none of the videos have audio.

At one point, an officer walks up and gently pulls up Taylor’s face mask up over his nose.

Less than 20 seconds later, Anthony appears for the first time.

He walks directly up to Taylor and shoves him hard back against the chair he’s been sitting on.

“I don’t know why,” said Taylor. “I just remember he was very aggressive and he was a very scary guy.”

Anthony then rips off Taylor’s shoes and tosses them down the corridor towards the cells.

Anthony keeps a hand on Taylor, clenching his shirt, while pinning him against the back of the chair as another officer appears to check Taylor’s pockets.

The other officer then goes to help Taylor to his feet when Anthony grabs him again and pushes Taylor up against a brick wall.

They remove Taylor’s cuffs and eventually lead him into the cellblock.

The video shows Taylor walking into a area outside of his cell and turns around to face Anthony.

Here’s how Anthony’s notes describe it:

“Stopped going into cell.”

“Pushed towards cell.”

“Squared off.”

“Struck in mouth.”

“Exchange empty hand blows until in cell.”

Two OPP police officers look on as another strikes Ronnie Taylor over and over.

But that’s not what the video shows, at least not what happened in the cell.

Anthony keeps striking Taylor in the head.

Over and over.

And, as for what happened outside of the cell, Taylor remembers it a bit differently.

“I just remember him saying turn around and then he shoved me and I put my hands up because I thought he was going to punch me in the face,” said Taylor.

Again, because the video has no audio, APTN can’t confirm what was said and Anthony declined to be interviewed for this story.

“Neither my client nor I will be addressing this at this time, or in this forum,” wrote Anthony’s lawyer, Karin Stein.

Const. Scott Anthony, middle, is seen looking over Ronnie Taylor after striking him more than a dozen times. The police officer’s notes don’t mention this encounter.

Anthony also unsuccessfully tried to stop APTN from getting the videos. Stein asked the court to quash APTN’s application and place a publication ban on the videos.

Stein argued at the hearing that releasing the videos could prejudice her client in another matter where he is charged with assaulting a different suspect a few weeks after the incident with Taylor.

Those charges haven’t been proven in court and Anthony was never charged for striking Taylor.

In fact, court records show that Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigation Unit, investigated allegations of assault but appeared to have only reviewed Taylor’s medical records. The SIU disputed his nose was broken during the volley of punches and dropped the investigation.

However, court records also suggest that the videos were kept from the SIU.

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But in a statement to APTN, the OPP said the SIU never requested the video.

The videos were, however, kept from Taylor, at least when his lawyer asked for them through disclosure of the Crown’s evidence on August 4, Oct. 5 and Oct. 18, 2022.

Taylor’s lawyer was also seeking the officer’s notes.

It wasn’t until after the SIU investigation wrapped up on Nov. 10, 2022 that these items started to be sent to Taylor’s lawyer.

However, in pieces.

The cell block video arrived on Dec. 16, 2022.

But there was a problem.

The part where Anthony is overtop Taylor striking him had been removed.

It was asked for again, but the Crown said it was “missing”.

On Feb. 9, 2023, Anthony’s police notes were provided to Taylor.

It wasn’t until March 7, 2023 when the full video was provided to Taylor.

Despite repeated requests from Taylor’s lawyer for an explanation as to how parts of the video were missing, he’s never been given one.

The OPP told APTN there were “technical” issues.

“Although there was a technical issue with the initial video that was provided to the court, all evidence pertaining to the criminal matter involving the accused Ronald Taylor, which is currently before the courts, was fully disclosed in accordance with the rules of evidence,” said an OPP spokesperson.

The OPP said it has now launched two reviews involving this case – one is looking at how the OPP internally investigated Anthony over this matter.

“This incident was brought forward to the OPP’s Professional Standards Unit, which investigates allegations of improper officer conduct. Following an assessment of the matter, the events were not deemed to be misconduct. A further review of that assessment is currently underway,” said the OPP.

It’s also reviewing the issue over the missing video.

“Although all evidence related to the matter involving the accused Ronald Taylor has been disclosed in accordance with the rules of evidence, the Bracebridge detachment commander is currently conducting an internal review associated to that process. It would be inappropriate to comment further on a matter that is currently before the courts,” said the OPP.

The OPP wouldn’t comment on why Anthony’s notes claimed the blows to Taylor were outside of the cell, despite video evidence contradicting that.

It did say this, however.

“While I cannot comment on specifics, what I will say is that footage such as this provides only some information and does not represent the totality of the situation. Additional information, such as audio and knowledge of prior events, can also impact how officers interact with individuals in custody,” said the OPP.

It’s immediately clear from speaking with Taylor that he has intellectual disabilities.

His mother, Rae Lowe, said he was born with the umbilical chord wrapped around his neck to the point he was blue and that he also was in a horrific car collision a few months later.

Since that night inside the police cellblock, Taylor has been forced to live with Lowe under strict bail conditions.

Lowe said she’s seen the video from inside the cell.

“It was really bad, but when I saw my son fall and have a seizure and no one came…,” said Lowe, fighting tears.

She worried for weeks that her son would drop dead of a brain injury.

“That just shattered my world. Like how am I supposed to tell my grandchildren to go to police officers for help?” she said.

Ronnie Taylor, left, with his mom, Rae Lowe, talk to APTN about the night Taylor hit by police in a cell.

Taylor also fears the police and doesn’t like leaving his mother’s home even when his bail conditions allow him.

“I don’t leave. I don’t like grocery shopping anymore because I am afraid to go out into the public eye with police being around because I am afraid something bad is going to happen to me,” he said. “I have bad dreams that they are going to break-in my door and come arrest me while I am sleeping.”

Taylor said in court records that he was beaten up three times previously by police.

So he stays home in part because of the fear.

And also because of bail conditions relating to the domestic incident.

APTN reached out to the alleged victim in that case and she offered her support of Taylor.

“I do support him speaking up about this. And I think it’s very important for the public to know. We should be able to have trust and rely on our justice system without worry of abuse of power,” she wrote APTN.

As for Taylor he just wants one thing to happen.

“I think [Anthony] should go to jail for what he did to me,” he said.

Read the court decision that granted APTN access to the videos below.

Download (PDF, 2.73MB)

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