SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-PCI-128
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Mandate of the SIU
Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation. If, after an investigation, there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence was committed, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the officer. Alternatively, in all cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director does not lay criminal charges but files a report with the Attorney General communicating the results of an investigation.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”)Pursuant to section 14 of FIPPA (i.e., law enforcement), certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Confidential investigative techniques and procedures used by law enforcement agencies; and
- Information whose release could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter or an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding.
- Subject Officer name(s);
- Witness Officer name(s);
- Civilian Witness name(s);
- Location information;
- Witness statements and evidence gathered in the course of the investigation provided to the SIU in confidence; and
- Other identifiers which are likely to reveal personal information about individuals involved in the investigation.
Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)
Other proceedings, processes, and investigationsInformation may have also been excluded from this report because its release could undermine the integrity of other proceedings involving the same incident, such as criminal proceedings, coroner’s inquests, other public proceedings and/or other law enforcement investigations.
“Serious injuries” shall include those that are likely to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim and are more than merely transient or trifling in nature and will include serious injury resulting from sexual assault. “Serious Injury” shall initially be presumed when the victim is admitted to hospital, suffers a fracture to a limb, rib or vertebrae or to the skull, suffers burns to a major portion of the body or loses any portion of the body or suffers loss of vision or hearing, or alleges sexual assault. Where a prolonged delay is likely before the seriousness of the injury can be assessed, the Unit should be notified so that it can monitor the situation and decide on the extent of its involvement.
This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into a serious injury sustained by a 30-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn June 3, 2020 at 2:50 a.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) contacted the SIU and relayed that on June 2, 2020 at about 11:00 p.m., the Complainant suffered a serious injury during an interaction with OPP police officers.
On June 2, 2020 at about 8:30 p.m., OPP police officers responded to a call on County Road 4 in Loyalist Township. Upon their arrival, the Complainant fled from a residence and ran into a bush area near the home. An OPP police service dog (PSD) along with several emergency response team (ERT) police officers began searching for the Complainant. At about 11:00 p.m., the Complainant was located in a marshy area. Subsequent interaction with the police officers resulted in the Complainant receiving a severe dog bite to his left calf area. The Complainant was transported to the Kingston General Hospital where he was treated for bite punctures and skin tears. The Complainant would also require surgery to remove bones chips from his leg.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Complainant:30-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
Subject OfficersSO Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right.
The SceneThe scene was located in a wooded area adjacent to a property on County Road 4, Odessa.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP:
- Notes of witness officers;
- General report - assault;
- Occurrence summary;
- Training records for PSD and the SO;
- K9 track map, WO #1; and
- K9 track map, WO #3.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from non-police organizations:
- The Complainant’s medical records.
The ERT officers and the SO began arriving at the scene at about 9:30 p.m. At about 9:45 p.m., after police had established a perimeter around the area, the SO, in the company of WO #1, WO #2 and WO #3, began the search for the Complainant. Led by the PSD, the officers traveled east into a wooded area. Their track continued southwest through the forest for a distance before they began to make their way in a northwest direction.
At about 11:00 p.m., the PSD located the Complainant and bit into his left calf. Prone on the ground, the Complainant had secreted himself in an opening between two rocks. The Complainant cried out in pain and attempted to push the dog away. The dog appears to have latched onto the leg at least twice before the SO arrived in the area and removed the PSD from the Complainant. The ERT officers handcuffed the Complainant and escorted him to a waiting police cruiser, which proceeded to transport him to an ambulance that had staged in the area.
The Complainant was taken from the scene to hospital where he was diagnosed and treated for serious injuries, including multiple puncture wounds and cuts to the lower left leg.
Section 25(1), Criminal Code -- Protection of persons acting under authority
(a) as a private person,(b) as a peace officer or public officer,(c) in aid of a peace officer or public officer, or(d) by virtue of his office,
Analysis and Director's Decision
Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, police officers are immune from criminal liability for force used in the course of their duties provided such force was reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they were required or authorized to do by law. Based on the information at their disposal, I am satisfied that the officers had a lawful basis to effect the Complainant’s arrest for the assault reportedly committed against a woman.
I am further satisfied on reasonable grounds that the deployment of the police dog, and the bite injuries the dog inflicted on the Complainant, fell within the limits of legal justification. There is no doubt the use of the dog amounted to a serious use of force which was responsible for significant injuries to the Complainant’s left leg. That said, the circumstances were such that the officers had cause to be concerned for their personal safety and want to engage the Complainant at a distance. As far as they knew, the Complainant had just committed a serious crime of violence against a woman having struck her with a vehicle. They were also aware that the Complainant was on a judicial release at the time in relation to a previous assault charge involving someone a week prior. It was dark and the officers were searching for the Complainant in a thickly forested area over uneven terrain. The situation dictated elevated caution. Moreover, the evidence indicates that the Complainant attempted to himself dislodge the dog, very likely prompting the multiple bites that the Complainant suffered as the dog struggled to maintain its hold. By his own admission, the SO took some time before he released the dog as he was initially alone with the Complainant. He had also observed an object underneath the Complainant’s body and was concerned about a potential weapon in his possession. While the delay likely resulted in further injury to the Complainant, I am satisfied the officer’s fears and decision-making were reasonable in the circumstances. Indeed, once the Complainant was lifted off the ground, a flashlight was discovered on the ground.
In the result, as there is insufficient evidence in my view to reasonably conclude that the SO conducted himself other than lawfully throughout his interaction with the Complainant, there is no basis for criminal charges against the officer. The file is closed.
Date: January 18, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
The signed English original report is authoritative, and any discrepancy between that report and the French and English online versions should be resolved in favour of the original English report.