May 17, 2012

Beaten Ottawa senior jailed after calling 911

Ottawa police are reviewing how 911 dispatchers handle calls after a 74-year-old man who was beaten in a home invasion called for help — only to be arrested and thrown in jail for more than two months.

Marian Andrzejewski, a retired artist, says he was deeply disturbed by his treatment at the hands of the 911 operator who took his call and the police response after two men kicked in the door to his downtown Ottawa apartment and punched him in the head and face on Oct. 23, 2010.

When Andrzejewski, whose family fled Poland after the Nazis invaded during World War II, called 911, he was greeted by a seemingly unsympathetic operator who addressed the senior in a mocking, impatient tone.

Andrzejewski does not speak English well and had trouble expressing himself to the operator.

“At my age, it’s hard to learn English,” Andrzejewski told the Toronto Star through a translator.

Instead of using the Polish translation service available to her after asking about Andrzejewski’s native language, the operator continued trying to understand the senior for the duration of the 14-minute call.

“When a 74-year-old fragile gentleman phones in that he’s been beaten, and this is the response he gets, I think there is a disconnect,” said Andrzejewski’s lawyer, James Harbic, who described the treatment of his client as “horrible.”

“The tone is very condescending and chilling.”

According to Harbic, Andrzejewski’s troubles began when he was ordered by the city of Ottawa to “de-clutter” his apartment in a public housing building.

Andrzejewski enlisted the help of a 49-year-old female neighbour. At his trial, Andrzejewski claimed the woman offered to have sex with him in exchange for money, but when he refused, she became angry and began kicking his paintings and throwing furniture around.

Andrzejewski claimed he took the woman by the hands and escorted her outside her apartment. A few minutes later, two men broke down Andrzejewski’s door and attacked him.

When police arrived, instead of rushing immediately to Andrzejewski’s apartment, the officers were intercepted by the female neighbour, who claimed that the senior had offered her money in exchange for sex, pulled her hair out, and bent back her fingernails. Authorities would later learn that one of the attackers was the woman’s son.

The officers then arrested Andrzejewski, interrogated him and charged him with forcible confinement and sexual assault. Andrzejewski maintained his innocence at all times, his lawyer said.

While awaiting a bail hearing, Andrzejewski was allowed to languish in jail for 77 days. The man had no close family or friends in Canada to speak with authorities on his behalf.

Andrzejewski was eventually released and obtained Harbic’s help. He was acquitted of all charges during his trial earlier this year.

“Life is important and the most important thing in life is freedom,” Andrzejewski said. “For me, to be in jail for 77 days was horrible. At my age, everyday counts as two days. I don’t have many days left at my age.”

Supt. Mike Flanagan said police are reviewing the initial 911 call and will speak to operator involved.

“Our 911 operators are the lifeline to public safety in our community,” he said. “In essence, the job of our 911 operators is to be sensitive, to be calming and to ensure that people get the help they need as quickly as possible.”


  1. Sure looks guilty to me.

  2. This story is interesting. The Nazis invaded Poland in 1939.
    We are in 2012, which is 73 years later.
    The man is 74 years old so he was a bay in 1939. He would have just been learning to speak at that time.
    So there must be a part of the story missing.
    Where did the victim go to school? If it was in Canada he would have learned to speak English or French and perhaps both languages.
    The fact that the victim's relatives felt the need to flee Poland suggests that he may be jewish, although this is not stated explicitly.
    The fact that the family escaped suggests that they left in the early part of the war. It is therefore unlikely that the victim was already attending school in Poland before the family fled.
    I believe that there is a part of this story left untold.
    It is difficult to believe that a boy could have lived in Canada for 70 years without learning to speak either of the official languages.

    1. Sure does say a lot huh? the man has lived through multiple totalitarian regimes one publicized the other covert. It's always the socialists and communists that get ousted and people learn about but when you combine both and marinade it in honey long enough who's not going to say give me right now?

    2. Well, I guess pod makes here a solid point. There is obviously a part of the story either left purposely untold or badly reported.
      I was reading the article and thought myself.. how old is this guy? I guess Math is a tricky thing..
      Anyway, I would argue that this person would be able to even understand a sexual advance/avance at this point.
      But giving him the benefit of the doubt, or even supposing that there might have been just a big misunderstanding between the two, one fact remains undeniable: the 911 operator and the Police officers involved behaved very unprofessionally, to say the least, and should face an internal investigation and be heavily sanctioned. The damaged party then should have the right to personally prosecute both the Police officers involved in the abuse (if proved that an abuse took place) and the assailants.
      The system is broken and that is the reality we all would have to face one day eventually.
      Even an ignorant (supposing that our friend was one and that he neglected to study and learn a second language) deserves to be treated with respect, especially when at a certain age.
      The fact that he might have been neglecting to learn English or French (or both) is of no relevance here. It shouldn't even matter if he were a Canadian citizen or not. There certain are unalienable rights that must be protected in a civilized society. And civil protection is Law Enforcement's primary reason of existence and main duty. So, the Police has once again neglected its institutional role to the public and acted irresponsibly.
      The man, the woman and the two assailants should retain as well full responsibility for their respective actions and the matter should be settled in a Tribunal as is expected in a civilized society.
      The calling for friends instead of the Police would be a very bad decision from my point of view, even considering the broken system we dealing with. We should do our best, no matter what, to act rationally, and starting a faida is not a rational thing to do.
      I must agree with some comments here though on the fact that Canada fails publicly once again to guarantee human rights to its citizens and to give a positive, civilized example to the global community.

    3. It's MassEthics not -ethis.. Please correct.
      A follow up to this post can be found at

  3. Canada tries too hard to emulate its idol, the US



  6. More police friendliness...

  7. what a morron you are. We dont decide guilt by looks. Not in a civilised society. But perhaps you are a retard so it is normal you cannot think worth a frozen potato.

  8. This is what happens when you call the police. He's lucky they didn't taser him to death. No doubt the officers will be promoted.

  9. Honest caring Mounties???

  10. Thats what he gets for calling the city for help.

  11. Do our cops and legal system EVER do ANYTHING in the public interest, or is it painfully obvious to everyone that they only exist to beat us into submission?

    I think that people are going to start dialing 9-1-1 just to get more cops to shoot at, and that will probably do a lot to reduce crime in our society.

  12. For a moment I thought this story came from the good old US of A.... way to keep up with the neighbours :-)

  13. in front of a chessboard= old freemason