OTTAWA — The Ontario police watchdog says a woman who claimed she was injured by a police horse during the "freedom convoy" protest was not hurt seriously enough to warrant an investigation.
The Special Investigations Unit was looking into police behaviour during the large-scale police operation to disperse the protests in downtown Ottawa that gridlocked the city's downtown for more than three weeks.
The blockades, which at times also shuttered several border crossings, were demanding an end to all COVID-19 mandates, but some also wanted to force the Liberal government out of office.
A 49-year-old woman said she was hurt by a Toronto Police Service officer on horseback on Feb. 18.
In a statement issued Monday, the SIU said a group of mounted officers moved into a crowd on Rideau Street in front of the Chateau Laurier, and one horse knocked a man and a woman to the ground.
The woman went to two different hospitals over the next three days with shoulder pain. The SIU said her medical records showed she had a strained shoulder.
The SIU said that is not a serious enough injury to grant it the authority to investigate, and it has closed the case and is referring it back to Toronto police to investigate "as they deem appropriate."
In addition to interviewing the woman, the SIU said it reviewed police body camera and drone footage.
After the Feb. 18 incident, false reports spread quickly online that a woman was trampled to death by a police horse.
It took hundreds of police officers from across Canada to bring an end to the Ottawa blockades and more than 100 people have been charged with a range of offences including obstruction, weapons possessions, assault and mischief.
Most were released on promises to appear or granted bail with strict conditions about social media use and communicating with other convoy leaders.
Patrick King, one of the key leaders of the event, remains in jail in Ottawa and is still looking for lawyers to represent him at trial.
King, who has been in custody since his Feb. 18 arrest, told a virtual hearing in Ontario court Monday that he is currently "shopping for lawyers."
Crown attorney Moiz Karimjee said he is concerned about the time King has been taking to secure lawyers on the record.
King has said in past court appearances that it has been hard to connect with legal counsel while he has been in custody.
He also said he has two new lawyers to represent him for his bail review, although neither of them were at the appearance today.
King, who is facing 10 charges related to his alleged role organizing the Ottawa protests, including mischief, intimidation, obstructing police and disobeying a court order, is scheduled to return to court later this month.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had a headline saying police found a woman was not seriously injured by a horse at the "freedom convoy" protest in Ottawa. The finding was made by the Special Investigations Unit.