Thunder Bay cop charged with assault of Métis man

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has charged a Thunder Bay police with assault causing bodily harm after a complaint was filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

John Semerling, 61, filed the complaint in late February. A news release from the SIU said there are reasonable grounds to believe the officer committed a criminal offence during the November of 2022 incident.

Cst. Ryan Dougherty, a three year veteran of the force, faces one charge of assault.

The SIU release said in the early morning hours of Nov. 8, 2022, there was an interaction between an officer Semerling. When the man later went to hospital, he was diagnosed with serious injuries.

“I wish that the whole force learns from it, because it’s not something that should be taken lightly,” Semerling said.

According to Semerling’s complaint to the tribunal, one of his friends had called Thunder Bay Police to check on his well-being on the evening of Nov. 8. Semerling said when police arrived, he went willingly with them to a local hospital. After a long wait without ever seeing a doctor, Semerliing started walking home.

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His lawyer, Chantelle Bryson told APTN in a February interview that four city police officers pulled up in cruisers and one officers allegedly assaulted Semerling.

“When he came to see me, he was visibly bruised, had concussion symptoms.”

Thunder Bay police said they can’t comment on the case but said the officer is  on “non front-line administrative duties.”

Dougherty is scheduled to appear in a Thunder Bay Court on May 23.

The SIU investigates all incidents where a member of the public is injured by the actions of police.

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