NEWS

Toronto police accused of excessive force in arrest

07/03/2013 07:03 EDT | Updated 09/02/2013 05:12 EDT
Craig Thompson admits he's been arrested before — mostly for petty crimes when he was younger. But last month was the first time it was caught on camera.

"They were choking me, I just started going black, getting tingly, and I just thought - they're gonna kill me this time," said Thompson.

A video taken from a neighbour's balcony shows Thompson pinned to the ground by two officers. Thompson says they approached him in the parking lot, asking if he'd seen another man with a gun.

"He just grabs onto me. And I pull away from him. And they both jump on me."

The officers appear to have Thompson subdued, trying to get his hands behind his back.

But when a third officer arrives the situation gets ugly. The officer kicks and punches Thompson 12 times in succession.

They yell at Thompson to "stop resisting."

Thompson says they were choking him. "I tried to get up. If they call that resisting, I don't. I call that trying to breath."

Jas Guram filmed the arrest from his second-storey balcony.

"The first thing I thought was, to serve and protect? No chance."

Guram said it "Looked to me like he wasn't really resisting. He wasn't being violent, he wasn't fighting. He was being polite. What did I do sir? Excuse me air, what have I done?"

Former Toronto police investigator Ross McLean says the video appears to show excessive force by the third officer — but stresses the video doesn't show what happened before the arrest.

"We're very lucky to have citizens that care enough to take the video. Police had better start acting like they're on video all the time," said Blais.

Police have charged Thompson with cocaine possession and say they can't comment further because the incident is now being investigated by the province's Special Investigations Unit.

MORE:cbcNews