London police: Const. Omar Hassan, charged with assault, once sued own force for racial profiling

A London police officer who sued the force and six of his colleagues eight years ago has been charged after a man was seriously injured in May.

Ontario’s police watchdog announced Tuesday that Const. Omar Hassan is charged with assault causing bodily harm.

Hassan, 48, is the fifth London police officer to be criminally charged — four of them by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) — in a little more than three months.

Police were called to Wellington Road, south of Wilkins Street, on the morning of May 12 for a man standing on the side of the road.

A 60-year-old man was arrested and eventually released without charges. Later the same day, the man was experiencing pain and was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with serious injuries, the SIU said.

Hassan, a 20-year policing veteran, is to appear in a London court on Sept. 5.

A police spokesperson declined to comment on whether Hassan remains on the job.

In the past, London police officers facing criminal charges have continued to work, with some reassigned to administrative duties.

In 2009, Hassan launched a $1-million lawsuit against the London police board and six officers, claiming he was the victim of racial profiling that led to an internal probe, fuelling rumours and suspicions he associated with a man linked to organized crime.

According to Hassan’s statement of claim filed at the time, he was leaving a hotel on Dec. 31, 2008, when he ran into three fellow officers responding to a noise complaint.

A hotel clerk told a responding officer about a suspicious guest who was often visited by another man, both of Middle Eastern descent. One officer linked Hassan, who was born in Pakistan, to the hotel guest, a man with ties to organized crime, leading police to launch an internal probe, the claim said.

Though the probe eventually found Hassan didn’t match the description of the hotel guest, his lawsuit sought changes in police training, policy and procedures.

“I love my colleagues and the job,” Hassan told The Free Press at the time. “I have nothing but respect for the profession, but even the most altruistic profession has issues. We’re part of society.”

London police settled the case out of court, said London lawyer Faisal Joseph, who represented Hassan.

“My client was satisfied with the result,” Joseph said by email Tuesday, adding Hassan signed a confidentiality agreement.

The charge against Hassan brings the tally of London officers criminally charged this year to five.

But charges against two of the officers, constables Theresa Clayton and Jeff Lake, were withdrawn last month.

In May, the SIU charged Clayton with assault causing bodily harm and Lake with assault in the June 16, 2016, arrest that injured Robbie Camick. The Crown withdrew the charges in July, citing no reasonable prospect of a conviction.

Camick, 41, is proceeding with a civil suit against police, lawyer Kevin Egan said.

Created in 1990, the SIU probes civilian death or serious injury involving police and allegations of sexual assault against officers.

The SIU has opened 10 investigations involving London police this year, six of which remain open. Last year, the agency opened 10 cases.

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