Skip to content

Police withdraw insubordination charges against officers

The Thunder Bay Police Service dropped Police Services Act charges filed against 3 officers last year, while appearing to suspend another senior officer.
TBPS Shoulder Patch

THUNDER BAY — The Thunder Bay Police Service has dropped Police Services Act charges filed against three officers last year, a remarkable climb-down after the service had ordered an external investigation it said seemed to substantiate the allegations.

The news came as the service appeared to suspend another senior officer who allegedly filed the complaints that led to those charges.

The police services board issued a statement last year citing allegations of misconduct against Staff Sgt. Shawn Harrison, Sgt. Justin Dubuc, and Const. Colin Woods.

The three were alleged to have harassed another sworn member of the service, subjecting them to what an investigator from the Hamilton Police Service later described as “targeting...through rumours, public discrediting, and character assassination and ostracization.”

Former Police Chief Sylvie Hauth, who was later suspended and resigned while facing Police Services Act charges of her own, had recommended an outside police service look at the allegations after an initial probe by a third-party workplace investigator.

The charges had remained listed as outstanding on the force’s website until Tuesday, when they were removed.

A Thunder Bay police spokesperson confirmed the charges had been “resolved,” but could not provide further details.

Woods, who is also the president of the Thunder Bay Police Service Association, said the charges against him were withdrawn, but declined to comment further.

Lawyer Chantelle Bryson has represented around a dozen current and former city police officers and staff in filing human rights complaints against the service.

While she does not represent Harrison, Dubuc, or Woods, she called the dropping of the PSA charges good news.

Bryson also welcomed news that Staff Sgt. Michael Dimini — who was named as a respondent in several human rights complaints she has filed on behalf of TBPS staff — was suspended on Monday.

A screenshot of an internal Thunder Bay Police Service email message provided by Bryson appeared to confirm Dimini’s suspension. Another source with knowledge of the situation confirmed the authenticity of the email.

Police would not comment on Dimini’s status Tuesday, calling that typical for human resources matters.

Bryson continues to await resolution of most of the complaints she filed against police leadership at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, after the service ignored an offer to discuss settling the claims.

In a statement to Dougall Media, Thunder Bay Police Services Board chair Karen Machado maintained the board does not see merit in the claims, and has asked the tribunal to declare Bryson a “vexatious litigant.”

Bryson strongly rejects that accusation, and called Tuesday’s news encouraging in that context, saying it seemed to further discredit some of the key respondents named in the complaints.

“The former chief [Hauth] is gone. The former legal counsel is gone. Those charges accusing people of harassing Staff Sgt Dimini… are gone, and now [he] is suspended. So, I don't think that really looks like we're lying.”

She alleged that Dimini had filed the complaints against the three officers.

Bryson sees parallels between what she describes as reprisals taken against her clients for questioning police leadership, and the experiences of Harrison, Woods, and Dubuc.

Counsel for the accused officers had argued the PSA charges were “used to [intentionally] discredit and punish the respondent officers for any involvement they have had with Sgt. Dimini’s challenges at the TBPS, or complaints against senior officers,” according to a 2022 submission to the police board from administrator Malcolm Mercer.

That submission suggested the investigation by the Hamilton Police Service had “substantiat[ed] allegations of insubordination and discreditable conduct against the officers.”

Ian Kaufman

About the Author: Ian Kaufman

Read more

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks