SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OCI-276
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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 an injury a 30-year-old woman (the “Complainant”) suffered.
Notification of the SIUOn October 20, 2020, at 11:22 a.m., the Brantford Police Service (BPS) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant. BPS advised that on October 20, 2020, at 1:49 a.m., BPS police officers, Witness Officer (WO) #1 and the Subject Officer (SO), attended a residence for a domestic incident. The Complainant and her boyfriend, the Civilian Witness (CW), had argued and both were to be arrested and charged for domestic assault. The CW was to be released on an Appearance Notice and the Complainant was to be held because she was intoxicated. During her arrest, the Complainant actively resisted. The Complainant was taken to the station where she was held in cells. Later in the morning, the Complainant complained of a sore wrist and was taken to Brantford General Hospital. She was diagnosed with a fractured right wrist. The wrist was placed in a cast, and the Complainant was later released on a judicial release order.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 0
Complainant:30-year-old female interviewed
Civilian Witness CW Interviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed, notes received and reviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
Subject OfficerSO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right
The SceneThe scene was located at the CW’s residence in Brantford.
The Sally Port Video
The Breath Room Video
WO #2 and the SO remained outside this room. The Complainant was initially compliant; however, as WO #1 attempted to start the search, the Complainant started to resist. WO #2 and the SO entered the breath room to check on the safety of WO #1. Once the Complainant was re-handcuffed, with her arms behind her back, she was escorted from the breath room without further incident. There did not appear to be any difficulties with the re-application of the handcuffs or the physical control used by the three officers.
Police Communications RecordingsAt 12:01 a.m., on October 20, 2020, the Complainant called the BPS and complained that her boyfriend, the CW, had just hit her. She declined an ambulance and just wanted him removed. She advised that no weapons were involved. The Complainant stated she would separate herself in a different room.
At 1:49 a.m., the Complainant was arrested. The CW was released on an Appearance Notice.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from BPS:
- Arrest Booking Report;
- Dispatch from Computer-Assisted Dispatch Details;
- Involved Person Report;
- WO #1 Records Check Report;
- WO #1 Report;
- Arrest, Security, Prisoner Care and Control-Policy;
- Communications Recordings;
- Disclosure Letter from BPS;
- Notes-WO #1;
- Use of Force Policy;
- Use of Force Training Log – the SO; and
- Custody Video.
The material events are clear and may be summarized in short order based on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with the Complainant, one of the two arresting officers, and a civilian eyewitness. In the early morning on October 20, 2020, the SO and WO #1 arrived at the CW’s residence in relation to a domestic disturbance. The Complainant had contacted police to report that she had been assaulted by her partner – the CW – and she wanted him removed from the residence.
The police officers spoke with the Complainant and the CW, took note of an injury to the CW’s face, sought advice from a senior officer off-site, and decided to arrest both parties for assault. The Complainant was handcuffed with her arms behind her back by the SO. The CW was arrested but released on a Promise to Appear.
The Complainant was escorted from the home and placed in the back of WO #1’s cruiser. When she complained of pain in her wrist, WO #1 checked on the handcuffs and assured herself that they were not overly tight.
At the police station, the Complainant refused to cooperate in the booking process and objected to being searched, necessitating the intervention of WO #2 and the SO, but did not complain of any injuries until after she was lodged in a cell.
The Complainant attended hospital later that morning and was diagnosed with a fractured right wrist.
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 the SO was in the execution of his lawful duties when he decided to arrest the Complainant and place her in handcuffs. Given the information that had come in on the 911 call and what he and WO #1 had gathered in their investigation at the scene, it seems there were reasonable grounds to believe that the Complainant had committed an assault.
Thereafter, aside from what minimal force might have been necessary to take hold of the Complainant, bring her arms around her back and secure her in handcuffs, the evidence indicates that the arrest process was uneventful. The Complainant did not resist being handcuffed and the SO seems to have had no difficulties in applying the restraints. Indeed, by her own admission, the Complainant is unsure how she came to be injured, albeit it must be noted that she was inebriated at the time. There is evidence that a measure of force was used at the station to control the Complainant when she objected to being searched, but it is clear that her injury was inflicted either before or at the time of her arrest given her complaint of wrist pain in the cruiser at the scene. This leaves open the possibility that the Complainant’s injury occurred prior to the arrival of the officers, perhaps in the course of her physical altercation with the CW.
In the result, whether or not the Complainant’s injury occurred as she was being arrested and handcuffed by the SO, there is insufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that the officer acted unlawfully in taking her into custody or otherwise used excessive force to effect his purpose. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.
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.