The off-duty Toronto Police officer involved in an alleged assault of a crossing guard in Markham is a former 51 Division sergeant, sources say.
Rhoel Ong, a 19-year veteran of the service, left the downtown division earlier this year to join the Public Safety Response Team, which is called to assist at major incident scenes in the city.
York Regional Police, who are investigating the incident, have revealed the man was an off-duty police officer.
Mohamed Hameed, 70, claims he was helping children cross the street outside Mount Joy Public School on Tuesday morning when a vehicle approached the intersection slowly, without stopping.
“He was not stopping. I hit on the back of the car to ask him to stop,” he told CTV News Toronto.
The driver parked the car and the passenger exited the vehicle and approached him, saying that he was a police officer, said Hameed.
“He grabbed me and pulled my vest out. Then he dragged me opposite to his car and slammed me into the car and he was holding me there,” Hameed said.
The officer told his son to call 911, Hameed said.
Ong, who is in his early to mid-40s, is a widower with three children. His wife died a few years of cancer and the officer and is now a working single dad.
Some officers disliked working under Ong because he was hot-tempered. He was also known to constantly switch his shifts and schedule to accommodate working lucrative pay-duties. He earned $148,000 last year according to the Sunshine list, roughly $20,000 above his base salary.
“He’s a really good guy, a good father. He’s protective of his children,” said a former 51 Division constable, who never worked directly under Ong. “But he has a temper.
“He was always good to the public. I’ve seen him treat the public so well. He’s a kind person. I was shocked when I saw the video,” said the officer.
In a video of the incident posted to Facebook, a resident can be heard yelling at the officer to “let him go.”
When police arrived, Hameed said he was taken into custody and placed in the back of a police car.
Hameed was later released. No charges have been laid so far.
“We’re going to be looking at all the elements at play here and trying to piece together exactly what we have,” York Regional Police Const. Laura Nicolle said.
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