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Security video reveals moments OPP officer assaults woman in Orillia holding cell

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Security video released from inside a holding cell in Orillia in 2019 shows the interaction between an officer and a woman accused of intoxication that resulted in an assault conviction for the eight-year OPP veteran.

Last month, Const. Bailey Nicholls was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm for choking and pinning 43-year-old Shannon Hoffman against cell bars, causing a head wound that required five staples to close.

Security video from inside a holding cell in Orillia, Ont., on Sept. 7, 2019, shows Shannon Hoffman holding her injured head. (Source: Court Exhibit)

The judge ultimately decided the video, which does not contain audio, revealed the officer's increasing frustration as Hoffman struggled to remove her jewelry.

The video shows the officer ripping the woman's necklace off, breaking it, and Hoffman visibly upset with her.

The officer then attempted to forcibly remove the woman's ring from her middle finger, and when the woman pulled away and grabbed the officer's wrist, Nicholls pushed her backwards against the jail cell bars and placed her right hand on the woman's throat.

Nicholls held the woman at arm's length against the cell bars for four seconds while Hoffman struggled to remove the officer's hand.

Security video from inside a holding cell in Orillia, Ont., on Sept. 7, 2019, shows an encounter between OPP Const. Bailey Nicholls and Shannon Hoffman. (Source: Court Exhibit)

Another officer then appeared on the video and intervened to assist Nicholls, and the woman was placed inside the cell area.

Moments later, Hoffman is seen touching the back of her head and pulls her hand away to reveal blood.

Paramedics were called, and she was taken to the hospital to be treated for the cut to the back of her head.

Seven months later, the Special Investigations Unit became involved and reviewed the security video.

Nicholls was charged in January 2021.

The judge noted Nicholls was seen cleaning up the blood in the cell and removing the bloody toilet paper left behind. Court documents reveal she then waited roughly 20 minutes to contact her supervisor and failed to complete a mandatory Use of Force Report.

The judge found the officer's explanations to be "disingenuous and unsatisfactory," adding, "I am troubled by P.C. Nicholls' refusal to acknowledge what is plainly seen in the cell video."

The Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) released a statement Tuesday, saying it fully supports Nicholls.

"We believed that the evidence, including the video released today, would result in the acquittal of PC Nicholls. The decision is obviously very disappointing. We have viewed the video. It is our position that force used in the circumstances was minimal, appropriate, and commiserate in the full circumstances of the incident.

It is important to note that the full interaction with the intoxicated female that informed the officer's response was not captured in the video. We believe that while a reasonable member of the public viewing the video may not accept the officer's use of force, they would be left wondering how that interaction resulted in the injury and a conviction for 'assault cause bodily harm'.

We are analyzing and reviewing the decision of Justice Olver, and once the legal process is concluded, a determination will be made about the merits of an appeal," stated John Cerasuolo, OPPA president.

The OPP confirmed the officer is on an unrelated leave.

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