SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-PCI-278
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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 28-year-old woman (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn October 21, 2020 at 4:26 p.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reported that on September 19, 2020, at 2:50 p.m., a 911 call was received regarding an assault and mischief at a residence in Rockwood.
The Subject Officer (SO) and Witness Officer (WO) #1 arrived at the scene and developed grounds to arrest the Complainant. When the police officers attempted to arrest the Complainant, she fled to her backyard on foot, and the police officers gave chase. In the backyard, the Complainant struck the SO in the face with an open hand before the Complainant was grounded and her hands handcuffed. At some point during the arrest, WO #2 arrived to assist.
The Complainant was taken to the detachment and later released.
On October 20, 2020, when the Complainant returned to the detachment to be fingerprinted, her right arm was in a sling and a police officer noted fresh stitches around her elbow. The Complainant told the police officer her arm was broken when she was arrested, and her injury required elbow replacement surgery.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Complainant:28-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
Civilian WitnessesCW Interviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Notes and will-say statement reviewed, interview deemed not necessary
Subject OfficersSO Declined interview, as is the subject officer’s legal right. Notes and will-say statement received and reviewed.
Police Communications Recordings
Summary of the 911 Call
The call lasted 13 minutes and 45 seconds but was mostly dead air as the CW put down the telephone. The dead air was punctuated by the 911 operator asking, “Hello.” At one minute and 48 seconds, the CW asked, at some distance from the phone, “Please send help,” and asked, “What are you doing?”
He still did not respond to the 911 operator. At two minutes and 47 seconds, with animal noises in the background, he said let the animal go.
At four minutes into the call, the CW returned to the telephone and spoke with the operator. He said his girlfriend was hitting his vehicle and breaking everything in the house. The CW told the operator he was alright but did not know what to do other than call the police. He was told police were on their way. The operator inquired about the wellbeing of the animals. The CW told her he had animals and they were fine. The Complainant could be heard in the background, but her words were indiscernible.
There was some conversation between the operator and the CW about the history of the relationship and the events that precipitated the call until about eight minutes into the call when the telephone line went dead.
The operator called back, the CW answered, and conversation continued. The CW told the operator the Complainant had mental health disorders, which caused the Complainant to yell again. That continued off and on until 13 minutes and 34 seconds into the call when police arrived, and the 911 call was ended by the operator.
Summary of OPP Communication Recordings
One minute and 28 seconds into the communication recording, the SO broadcast their arrival on scene and, about five seconds later, WO #1 arrived. At one minute and 37 seconds of the recording, the dispatch communicator acknowledged WO #1’s [officer in need of assistance] notification. WO #2 asked for, and was given, the location of the [officer in need of assistance] and the communicator asked for WO #1’s status.
At one minute and 45 seconds into the recording, WO #1 broadcast everything was okay and they had arrested a female. WO #3 and WO #2 continued to the call location. WO #2 broadcast his arrival on the scene at two minutes and 44 seconds into the recording, after WO #1 broadcast the female who had been arrested was in the back of a police vehicle and would be transported to the detachment.
At three minutes and 10 seconds into the recording, the Complainant was transported to the detachment.
The communication recording ended at 2:54 p.m. on September 19, 2020.
A second communication recording captured the telephone calls made from the dispatcher to a cellular telephone provider to get the CW’s subscriber information, and an incoming call from WO #1 to the dispatcher explaining his [officer in need of assistance] button had been activated because he had been bitten by a dog and that he would be out of service at a hospital having the injury assessed.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceThe SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the OPP:
- Arrest Report – the Complainant;
- Computer-assisted Dispatch Event Details;
- Duty Roster (Log-on info)-Day shift;
- General Report;
- Notes of the SO and witness officers;
- Use of Force Training Records for the SO, WO #1, WO #2 and WO #3;
- Will-say statement – the SO;
- Witness Statement – the CW (Audio Summary);
- 911 and communications recordings; and
- Detachment video.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from non-police entities:
- Medical records, Guelph General Hospital; and
- Medical records, Groves Memorial Hospital.
In the afternoon of September 19, 2020, the SO and WO #1 were dispatched to an address in Rockwood. They were sent in response to a 911 call made by the CW. The CW reported that his girlfriend – the Complainant – was hitting him and damaging his property.
The SO and WO #1 arrived on scene shortly after 3:00 p.m. Upon speaking with the CW, the decision was made to arrest the Complainant for assault and mischief. The SO proceeded into the residence through the open front door and encountered the Complainant at the back of the house in the kitchen. Advised that she was going to be arrested, the Complainant reacted with anger. She yanked her arm away from the SO’s hold and then ran into the backyard.
The SO and WO #1 chased her into the backyard and there ensued a struggle of some duration as they attempted to take her into custody. The Complainant flailed her arms and legs, thrashed her body and resisted the officers’ efforts to bring her to the ground. She was eventually taken down by the officers, each of whom had a hold of one of her arms, and her arms handcuffed behind her body.
Following her arrest, the Complainant was taken to the OPP Rockwood Detachment and lodged in a cell at 3:30 p.m. At about 5:54 p.m., the Complainant was released from custody and driven to her home by the SO.
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 authorized or required to do by law. I accept that there was a lawful basis to arrest the Complainant. Based on what the officers knew of the 911 call that had been made, the information they gleaned directly from the CW at the scene, and what they saw and observed upon their arrival, there were reasonable grounds to believe that the Complainant had assaulted the CW and damaged his property. 
As for the propriety of the force that was used, I am unable to reasonably conclude that it was excessive in the circumstances. By all accounts, the Complainant struggled vigorously to avoid being placed in handcuffs. She repeatedly yanked her limbs and body back and forth trying to extricate herself from the officers’ hold. And when they tried to ground her, the Complainant pushed back and did what she could to prevent that from happening. The officers reacted without the use of weapons or strikes of any kind. Rather, they simply grappled with her over a period of some 30 – 45 seconds before they were eventually able to overpower and take her to the ground. There is nothing on this record to suggest the officers’ force was other than measured and reasonable.
There is some evidence the Complainant’s right arm was fractured when the SO forced it behind her back as she lay prone on the ground. There is further evidence that this occurred after the Complainant told the officer that her arm was stiff and she could not move it. I accept that the SO forcefully brought the Complainant’s right arm out from under her body and behind her back. I further accept that this maneuver may well have broken the Complainant’s arm, although there is evidence that the takedown may have caused or contributed to the injury. Be that as it may, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the SO’s force fell within the range of what was reasonably necessary at the moment. To reiterate, the officers were involved in a spirited confrontation with the Complainant. In the course of that struggle, the Complainant’s dog had bitten WO #1’s elbow. They had every reason to believe that the Complainant was capable of continued violence given what they knew of her recent dealings with the CW and his property. And no reason to suspect that her right arm was injured prior to the SO bringing it around the Complainant’s back; she had just been using her arms to resist the officers on her feet. In short, there was some necessity in bringing the matter to an end as quickly as possible and I am unable to fault the officer for acting forcefully and resolutely to do so,
In the result, as there is no evidence to reasonably believe that the officers acted other than lawfully throughout their encounter with the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case. The file is closed.
Date: January 25, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) I am also satisfied that the officers’ entry into the home was lawful given the constellation of circumstances that prevailed at the time, including evidence of a recently concluded assault by the Complainant; grounds to believe that the CW’s property in and out of the residence had been and was being damaged; and, the implicit consent of the CW, who had called 911 complaining of an assault in progress, was a resident of the home until that day, and appears to have been there lawfully collecting his property. [Back to text]
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.