Thunder Bay police say they’ve charged a 29-year-old man with assault causing bodily harm following an incident on Feb. 3 during which a Shoppers Drug Mart security guard body slammed and handcuffed a First Nation youth in the northern Ontario city.
The incident garnered public attention after a video was circulated on social media.
It shows a plain clothes security guard walking the Indigenous teen through the store while holding the teen’s hands behind his back.
The youth appears to pull one hand free. The security guard then lifts him off the ground and body slams him. It’s not clear in the video whether the teen’s head made contact with the floor but the impact was significant.
In a Feb. 5 statement, Loblaw, the parent company of Shoppers Drug Mart, called the incident “absolutely unacceptable,” and said they were “deeply concerned by what happened.”
They said “Shoppers Drug Mart has a no-touch policy, which means pharmacy owners, their store employees and their security partners are not allowed to physically engage with anyone in our stores.”
Following the incident APTN News spoke with a friend of the teen’s family, who said the teen was visiting Thunder Bay from Kingfisher Lake First Nation, a fly-in community in northern Ontario, for medical purposes.
The source told APTN the teen was “traumatized” from the incident and “still in pain” at the time.
Thunder Bay Police said at the time officers were called to the store for “a report of a theft.” In Wednesday’s news release they said they had interviewed eyewitnesses, reviewed the footage and other evidence, and “learned that a possible assault linked to this incident may have occurred.”
They say the accused, who is from Thunder Bay, has been released and will appear in court on March 22.
They later confirmed that the youth in the video is not facing charges.
Police are not releasing the security guard’s name as the charges have not been sworn in by the courts.
In their statement earlier this month Loblaws apologized to the teen’s family and said the security guard’s “use of force and handcuffs is a clear violation” of their policy.
They said they had “been in contact with the third-party security provider and have recommended disciplinary action – including restricting the security guard from working at any of our stores.”