Cop who assaulted boy at CHEO gets conditional discharge

An Ottawa police officer has received a conditional discharge after assaulting a handcuffed 13-year-old boy who was in custody for mental health issues at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in 2022.

Thursday's sentence comes after Const. Muhammad Khan pleaded guilty to assault in April.

The boy had been swearing at and racially insulting Khan when the officer grabbed the boy's jaw with both hands, forced him face-down to the floor, put his knee and then a foot on the boy's back, then picked him up and escorted him away, Ontario Court Justice Geoffrey Griffin said Thursday.

The boy was not injured, he added.

Griffin and assistant Crown prosecutor Timothy Kavanagh were brought in from Napanee, Ont., for the case to avoid any potential conflicts of interest with the Ottawa legal community Khan has worked with.

Assault lasted seconds

The judge said the assault was brief, lasting just seconds, and was out of character for Khan, whose policing record is otherwise unblemished.

The conditional discharge means Khan will have no criminal record after three years, as long as he abides the terms of a 12-month probation order.

He must perform 100 hours of community service, attend counselling if ordered to do so by a probation officer, not communicate with the victim or his family, and pay a $100 victim fine surcharge.

The Crown had sought a 30-day conditional sentence with house arrest. But the judge sided with Khan's defence lawyer James Foord, who wanted a conditional discharge and community service.

No one from the boy's family attended Thursday's sentencing. His identity is protected by a publication ban because he is a minor.

Domestic disturbance call

According to the agreed statement of facts, Khan and his partner were sent to a home in Orléans for a domestic disturbance call involving mental health on Nov. 6, 2022.

The then 13-year-old had allegedly choked his sister and was threatening his family with a knife.

Court documents state the boy, who had unspecified mental health issues and Tourette Syndrome, wasn't taking his prescribed medications.

The mother advised the officers the boy's threatening behaviour had escalated in the weeks leading up to the call, the statement of facts said. She also told them her son had recently been expelled from school and was refusing to see a doctor or therapist.

The mother and sister had barricaded themselves inside a bedroom and, within 30 minutes of police arriving, the officers took the boy into custody under the Mental Health Act, believing he could harm himself or others.

The CHEO emergency entrance Oct. 19, 2022. CHEO is eastern Ontario's children's hospital in Ottawa.
The assault happened in a hallway at CHEO, eastern Ontario's children's hospital, on Nov. 6, 2022. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

'We believe the judge said it right'

Khan was placed on administrative duties in May 2023 when he was criminally charged. Ottawa police said Thursday that he remains on administrative duties.

"Good luck, officer Khan," the judge told the officer at the end of the sentencing hearing. "You're a good man and have a lot to offer the community."

But Griffin also warned Khan that if it happens again, his policing days will be over.

Foord said his client declined to comment.

"The judge said it all, and we believe the judge said it right," Foord said, adding that Khan immediately took responsibility for his actions and hopes to return to active duty policing.

The Ottawa police professional standards unit will now conduct its own investigation into Khan under the Police Services Act.

The president of the union that represents rank-and-file Ottawa police officers as well as civilian members said in an emailed statement Thursday that it doesn't condone violence against anyone.

"The incident involving Constable Khan was unfortunate and we understand these incidents can impact [public] opinion of our members," Matthew Cox wrote.

The officer's guilty plea "demonstrates he has taken responsibility for his actions; we believe this is the first step in moving forward," he added.