An Eastern Ontario MPP and outspoken opponent of COVID-19 public health rules says his son was Tasered in a dispute over mask-wearing in downtown Perth on Friday night.
Randy Hillier, the independent MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, has sent a letter to Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique saying his son, Clayton, was Tasered by an OPP officer after police threw his brother to the ground.
OPP East Region spokesman Bill Dickson would not comment on the specifics of the incident Saturday, beyond referring to a media release that did not confirm the identities of the people involved.
In that statement, OPP said members of the Lanark detachment responded shortly before 10:30 p.m. to a bar on Foster Street. The owner called police to remove “several individuals as a result of a dispute over a failure to wear face masks, which are required under provincial health regulations,” the statement said.
Under the Trespass to Property Act, business owners call police if patrons refuse to leave the premises.
Demetrios Kotsovolos, owner of the Golden Arrow Pub and Eatery in Perth, said the Hillier brothers were not the patrons who had been evicted, but they joined in a confrontation with police outside his bar.
“(One of the Hilliers) got in the cops’ faces. I couldn’t believe the stuff he was saying to the cops. It went on for, like, 10 minutes, and I even asked the cops, ‘How long you gonna put up with this stuff?’ ”
Kotsovolous said the officer responded, “Not long,” just as someone pushed the officer.
A suspect was than taken to the ground, but patrons continued to face off with police.
Police eventually used a conducted energy weapon on one of the suspects.
Kotsovolous said the Hilliers had been loud inside the bar, but he believed they had been wearing masks.
He described the bar as a lively neighbourhood pub and said people were generally respectful, “probably because they know they have it better than others” in Ontario with Leeds, Grenville Lanark area in a “green zone” under provincial COVID-19 regulations. For example, last call for alcohol is at 12:45 a.m., doors close for new patrons at 1 a.m. and alcohol must be off the table by 2 a.m.
“While one individual left voluntarily, others were escorted from the location,” police added in their media release.
“Once outside, individuals refused to leave the area and became assaultive with officers. A controlled energy weapon was deployed and two individuals were arrested.”
The men were charged with public intoxication under the Liquor Licensing Act and released from custody in the morning, police said.
Since that is a provincial offence, OPP will not release the names of the accused, Dickson said.
In his letter to the OPP commissioner, Randy Hillier said “an individual was physically escorted out of a pub in downtown Perth for failure to wear a facial covering” while drinking with his sons.
Hillier’s letter says his sons tried to defuse the situation outside because the other individual “was in a highly agitated state,” and, while attempting to de-escalate the situation, his eldest son Dillon “was thrown to the sidewalk by the police.”
His youngest son, Clayton, stepped in “to act as a shield to prevent further physical violence against Dillon by the police. Clayton was then Tasered in the back and immediately fell to the ground,” the letter continued.
Hillier said both his sons were handcuffed and detained overnight, adding Dillon was charged with public intoxication. Clayton was not charged.
The MPP, who himself was ticketed by police in November after an anti-lockdown rally at Queen’s Park in Toronto, wants the OPP to review its enforcement of COVID measures, as well as the Perth incident.
He has led similar rallies elsewhere, including one recently in Cornwall.