Ottawa Const. Liban Farah.
An Ottawa police patrol officer is facing criminal charges after a 24-year-old man sustained a concussion during an arrest in the ByWard Market in May 2018.Const. Liban Farah, 33, is charged with assault and obstruction of justice, the Special Investigations Unit announced Thursday, almost 15 months after the arrest.Farah was in uniform on patrol in the Market on May 9, 2018, around bar-close at 2 a.m. when the SIU alleges he assaulted a man during an “interaction.” The man was arrested and then taken to the hospital, “where he was diagnosed with a serious injury,” the SIU said.SIU interim director Joseph Martino “has reasonable grounds to believe” that Farah committed criminal offences during the man’s arrest, the civilian police watchdog said.The 24-year-old-man, who the SIU has not identified, was criminally charged as a result of the interaction, but prosecutors have abandoned those charges, this newspaper has learned. Police charged him with resisting a peace officer and uttering death threats, and gave him a provincial offence ticket for public intoxication.The Crown had set a four-day criminal trial, but vacated those dates and then stayed all criminal charges against the man weeks ago.Ottawa police also received a separate complaint that the man had been assaulted while in the police cellblock by special constables, who are not sworn police officers, but do perform some law-enforcement duties. That investigation is ongoing.It’s not immediately known why the SIU has alleged the officer obstructed justice. Farah was interviewed by the SIU during their investigation.Farah was hired in August 2013 and was sworn in as an Ottawa police officer alongside 11 other new recruits in June 2014.At the time, he said that the group “joined this career to try and make a difference in this community.“We take these risks and are willing to lay down our lives to make a difference person’s life.”Farah was raised in Ottawa and attended Carleton University.“We know the job means putting your life on the line,” he said after his swearing-in ceremony. “When you get to calls, you don’t know what you’re getting into. You never know if a call is going to go sideways.”Months before the arrest in which he’s charged, Farah was hailed a hero for helping the victim of a shooting.According to his nomination for a Police Services Hero of the Year Award, Farah raced to help the victim of multiple gunshot wounds and staunched his bleeding until paramedics arrived.He’d been called to the scene at King Edward Avenue at Rideau Street during a Dec. 2017 shift on patrol.“Farah embodied the Ottawa Police Service core values and demonstrated honour, courage, and service,” the unidentified nominator wrote to the Police Association of Ontario.“He did this all while sacrificing his own safety at a shooting scene. This heroic act by (Const.) Farah saved the life of an Ottawa citizen.”The Ottawa Police Association would not comment on Farah’s behalf, but president Matt Skof said that there remains frustration among officers with how long it took for the SIU to determine whether to lay charges and questions about the merits of the charges.None of the charges against Farah has yet been tested in court. Farah is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 3.Farah remains on active duty as a police officer, but has been reassigned to desk duties.The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates incidents involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. Under the Police Services Act, the director considers whether an officer has committed a criminal offence and either lays a criminal charge against the officer or closes the file without firstname.lastname@example.org/shaaminiwhy ALSO IN THE NEWSPublic school fundraising: ‘It’s a question of equality’Disgraced Ottawa lawyer appears in court wearing a maskPolice have vowed to crack down on biker gangs. So why are two thriving in Ottawa?