SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-TVI-082
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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 man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn April 12, 2020, at 8:54 p.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) contacted the SIU and provided the following information.
On April 12, 2020, at approximately 6:09 p.m., the TPS responded to an armed robbery in progress at a store in the area of King and Bathurst.
Multiple officers responded and located the suspect – the Complainant - in the area. The suspect was in possession of a large knife. He was confronted by officers and directed to drop the weapon. When he did not comply, Conducted Energy Weapons (CEWs) were deployed.
The man continued to flee onto the roadway still in possession of the knife. A responding cruiser attempted to cut in front of the man. The man ran in front of the cruiser and was bumped. The man dropped the knife and fell to the roadway and was partially run over by the left front wheel of the cruiser.
While he was on the ground it took as many as six uniform officers to gain control of the man.
The man was transported to Toronto Western Hospital with undetermined injuries. The TPS advised that the man had to be sedated at the hospital as he continued to fight police and paramedics en route to the hospital.
The TPS updated, at 10:20 p.m, that the man had a fractured right wrist.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2
Complainant:28-year-old male, declined to provide a statement
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
Additionally, the notes from six other officers were received and reviewed.
Subject OfficersSO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
The SceneOn April 13, 2020, at 12:25 a.m., the SIU forensic investigators arrived on scene at Bathurst Street and Front Street. The scene was mapped with Total Station equipment for a planned drawing and the scene was photographed and exhibits collected.
Bathurst Street is a north-south street with two lanes in each direction. The lanes are shared with streetcar tracks. Front Street West is an east-west, 2-lane road and the west end of the road meets Bathurst Street at a T-intersection. The intersection is controlled with traffic signals.
The SIU forensic investigators examined the TPS cruiser operated by the SO. This cruiser was a marked police unit displaying graphics. The cruiser was running with its emergency lighting activated and was orientated in a southeast direction across the eastbound lanes of Front Street West and west of the intersection with Portland Street. There appeared to be fresh swipes in the dirt and grime on the front left corner of the cruiser and there was scuffing to the exterior sidewall of the right rear tire.
There was evidence of CEW deployment in the northbound lanes of Bathurst Street, north of Front Street West. The evidence consisted of CEW wires and blast doors.
The KnifeOn April 12, 2020, at 6:11:15 p.m., the first video images related to this investigation show the Complainant walking south on Bathurst, in the vicinity of Wellington Street West, and he is carrying a kitchen-style knife in his hands.
As the Complainant continues to move southbound on Bathurst Street, several other videos clearly show the Complainant in possession of the knife. At 6:13:57 p.m., the Complainant, who was now on Front Street West, lost control of the knife and it landed on the roadway. Below is a still shot derived from an in-car camera system (ICCS) video recording that captured the knife in the Complainant’s hands.
Figure 1 - Screenshot from ICCS video recording depicting the Complainant brandishing a knife.
At 3:15 a.m., the forensic investigators attended TPS 14 Division and a total of seven CEWs, 14 CEW cartridge cases and a cannister of oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray were turned over to the SIU.
The knife reportedly used by the Complainant had been secured in the TPS property system prior to the SIU’s arrival at 14 Division. Photographs of the knife taken by TPS were obtained and reviewed by SIU forensic investigators.
Figure 2 - The kitchen knife brandished by the Complainant.
Data Downloaded from CEWsData from the CEWs were downloaded and the following salient entries were identified:
WO #1’s CEW
- 6:11:15 p.m.,  first trigger event with cartridge C-1 deployed, duration 2 seconds.
- 6:11:17 p.m., second trigger event with C-2 deployed, duration 1 second.
WO #3’s CEW
- 6:13:26 p.m., first trigger event with C-1 deployed, duration 5 seconds.
Additional Officer’s CEW
- 6:14:50 p.m., first trigger event with C-1 deployed, duration 5 seconds.
- 6:15:01 p.m., second trigger event with no new cartridge deployed, duration 4 second.
- 6:15:13 p.m., third trigger event with C-2 deployed, duration 4 seconds.
Second Additional Officer’s CEW
- 6:15:49 p.m., first trigger event with C-1 deployed, duration 5 seconds.
WO #4’s CEW
- 6:15:54 p.m., first trigger event with C-1 deployed, duration 5 seconds.
- 6:16:36 p.m., second trigger event with C-2 deployed, duration 6 second.
WO #2’s CEW
- 6:18:01 p.m., first trigger event with C-1 deployed, duration 5 seconds.
The SO’s CEW
- 6:26:26 p.m., first trigger event with C-1 deployed, duration 5 seconds.
- 6:26:31 p.m., second trigger event with C-2 deployed, duration 2 seconds.
TPS ICCS RecordingsThe SIU received from the TPS a USB drive containing the ICCS recordings from multiple scout cars. The following is a summary of the salient portions of the ICCS recordings:
At 6:05:21 p.m., the ICCS commences for Scout Car #1. At 6:12:16 p.m., Scout Car #1 arrives at the intersection of Wellington Street West and Bathurst Street, and turns left and drives south on Bathurst Street. At 6:12:36 p.m., Scout Car #1 turns left, drives east towards the parking garage at 27 Bathurst Street, and makes contact with the Complainant, who jumps onto and off of the hood of the cruiser. Scout Car #1 then performs a turn and drives south on Bathurst Street on the east sidewalk of Bathurst Street. At 6:13:03 p.m., Scout Car #1 makes contact with the Complainant again and he slides forward and off the hood of the cruiser. The Complainant continues to run south on the sidewalk and Scout Car #1 continues to follow him making contact with him as he runs. At 6:13:50 p.m., Scout Car #1 drives eastbound on the Front Street north sidewalk and follows the Complainant. At 6:13:57 p.m., the SO’s cruiser travels past Scout Car #1 and runs over the Complainant.
At 6:10:38, the ICCS commences for Scout Car #2. As Scout Car #2 arrives on scene, the Complainant is on the east sidewalk on Bathurst Street in the vicinity of Niagara Street. Scout Car #1’s cruiser can be seen driving on the east sidewalk behind the Complainant and impacting him. The Complainant can be seen walking away south on the east sidewalk, and Scout Car #1 drives behind him on the sidewalk with several officers following on foot, some officers with firearms drawn and pointed at the Complainant. At 6:13:03 p.m., Scout Car #1 strikes the Complainant a second time, and the Complainant bounces off the hood. At 6:13:10 p.m.. Scout Car #1 strikes the Complainant a third time and knocks him to the ground at the corner of Bathurst and Front Streets. The Complainant quickly gets up and walks north on Bathurst and behind Scout Car #1’s cruiser. At 6:13:34 p.m., Scout Car #2 strikes the Complainant with his cruiser and the Complainant remains on his feet moving on Bathurst Street still brandishing the knife. At 6:14:06 p.m., Scout Car #2 repositions his cruiser and, at that time, the recording shows the Complainant on the ground on Front Street with several officers struggling with him.
At 6:09 p.m., the ICCS commences for Scout Car #3, operated by the SO. The SO is traveling to the area of Bathurst Street and King Street. At 6:12 p.m., the SO arrives at Bathurst and King Streets. He arrives at Bathurst Street and Front Street at 6:13 p.m., and at least seven officers and Scout Car #1 come into view. As the Complainant is running on the east side walk at Bathurst and Front Street, 11 officers are pointing firearms and CEWs at the Complainant and one officer appears to deploy OC spray. The Complainant moves behind the SO’s cruiser and then goes off screen. At 6:13 p.m., the Complainant runs in front of the SO’s cruiser and is struck by Scout Car #2. The SO then starts to drive east on Front Street and, at 6:13 p.m., contact is initiated with the Complainant and he drops the knife. The Complainant then begins to fall down and is run over by the SO’s cruiser. At 6:14 p.m., the SO brings his cruiser to a halt.
Scout Car #4, being operated by WO #3, commences its ICCS recording at 6:09:58 p.m. At 6:11:14 p.m., the cruiser arrives on scene and records the Complainant on the west sidewalk of Bathurst Street, in the vicinity of Wellington Street West. Three TPS officers are engaging the Complainant with firearms drawn. At 6:11:29 p.m., the Complainant runs to the east side of Bathurst Street and runs southbound on the roadway. At 6:11:46 p.m., the Complainant goes onto the east sidewalk and gets out of view of this cruiser’s camera as he passes Niagara Street.
Summary of TPS Communications RecordingsThe TPS provided an electronic copy of their communication recordings. The recordings consisted of 461 files related to 911 calls, dispatches and officer transmissions. The following is a summary of the salient portions of recordings:
• 6:09:08 p.m., 911 call
The caller was on King Street and Bathurst Street witnessing someone steal a bike with a knife, two males physically fighting. He indicated the male, who was described as being in his mid-thirties, was wearing a black hat and green jacket, and carrying a clear bag of clothes, had a black kitchen knife and was going south on Bathurst Street. The victim was described as a guy carrying food and without injuries.
• 6:09:16 p.m., 911 call
The caller noted that a guy was getting his bike stolen at knife point and no one was hurt. The incident was at King Street at Bathurst Street, and involved a person with a six-inch knife. The caller noted that the police were on scene, had the guy at knife point, and the guy was fleeing south on Bathurst Street with the officers chasing him.
• TPS dispatches/officer transmissions
6:09:45 p.m. TPS dispatches call information
6:11:44 p.m. Indication that male is at gun point
6:12:02 p.m. Indication that two CEWs had been deployed, but were ineffective
6:14:16 p.m. Indication that male was in custody, knife had been recovered, and everything was under control
Materials obtained from Police ServiceThe following materials and documents were obtained and reviewed from the TPS:
- Email from TPS-Witness Contact Details;
- Communications recordings;
- ICCS cruiser videos;
- Event Details-Person with knife;
- Event Details-Robbery;
- Notes of SO, WOs and six additional officers; and
- TPS Involved Officer List.
WO #1, WO #2 and WO #3 were among the first officers to arrive at the intersection. They, with other officers, followed the Complainant as he walked southward on the east sidewalk of Bathurst Street. The Complainant was repeatedly ordered to drop the knife, but failed to do so. He yelled at the officers to “shoot him”. The officers responded that they did not wish to do so. It became apparent that the Complainant was of unsound mind at the time, and some of the officers believed he was either under the influence of drugs or in mental health crisis. All efforts at communication proved futile.
Among the cohort of officers that followed the Complainant southward on Bathurst Street, some drew their firearms while others carried their CEWs. There was pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area and the officers were concerned for the safety of third parties as well as their own. On repeated occasions, CEWs were discharged at the Complainant with the intention of incapacitating him sufficiently to allow for officers to move in safely and disarm him. Each one of these discharges – 12 in total by seven officers – were ineffective; the Complainant was wearing a winter jacket which appears to have prevented the probes that were on target from penetrating through to the skin. On another occasion, an officer – WO #5 – fired two bursts of his pepper spray at the Complainant. While the second discharge appears to have struck the right side of his face, neither deployment had any impact in slowing the Complainant. The same was true of two officers’ use of their police vehicles. Three times one officer drove intentionally into the Complainant in an effort to knock him down as he travelled south on Bathurst Street toward Front Street. A second officer followed suit with a single impact of his own. Each time, though the slow speed impacts caused the Complainant to stumble, he regained his footing and continued southward, the knife still in his right hand.
When he reached Front Street, the Complainant turned left and started traveling eastward on the roadway, the officers still in tow. The SO, who had just fired his CEW twice at the Complainant in vain, returned to his cruiser and started to follow the Complainant on Front Street. With the Complainant walking east in the eastbound lanes, the SO drove up behind him and used the driver’s side front corner of the cruiser to strike the Complainant’s backside. The Complainant was felled from the strike, landing on the street. The SO’s front driver’s side wheel drove over the Complainant before the officer brought the cruiser to a stop on Front Street.
The impact knocked the Complainant down and dislodged the knife from his grasp. Seeing this, other officers rushed to the area and quickly handcuffed the Complainant’s arms behind his back.
Following his arrest, paramedics arrived at the scene and took the Complainant to hospital, where he was reportedly diagnosed with fractures of his right wrist and foot.
The knife in the Complainant’s possession, which had been secured by the TPS after the incident, had a blade 18 centimetres in length.
Section 34, Criminal Code -- Defence of person - Use of threat of force
(a) They believe on reasonable grounds that force is being used against them or another person or that a threat of force is being made against them or another person;(b) The act that constitutes the offence is committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or the other person from that use or threat of force; and(c) The act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.
(a) the nature of the force or threat;(b) the extent to which the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force;(c) the person’s role in the incident;(d) whether any party to the incident used or threatened to use a weapon;(e) the size, age, gender and physical capabilities of the parties to the incident;(f) the nature, duration and history of any relationship between the parties to the incident, including any prior use or threat of force and the nature of that force or threat;(f.1) any history of interaction or communication between the parties to the incident;(g) the nature and proportionality of the person’s response to the use or threat of force; and(h) whether the act committed was in response to a use or threat of force that the person knew was lawful.
Analysis and Director's Decision
Pursuant to section 34 of the Criminal Code, the use of force that would otherwise amount to an offence is justified where it was intended to thwart a reasonably apprehended attack, actual or threatened, and where said force was reasonable. The reasonableness of the force is to be assessed in light of the relevant circumstances, including such considerations as the nature of the force or threat; the extent to which the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force; and, whether any party to the incident used or threatened to use a weapon. In the instant case, the issue is whether section 34 is reasonably available to cloak in justification the use by the SO of his vehicle to strike the Complainant. In my view, it is.
There is no doubt that the SO and the other officers that converged on the scene were in the lawful execution of their duties as they tried to protect the public while taking the Complainant into custody. They had grounds to believe that the Complainant had just attacked another male, attempting to steal his bike, while holding a knife. This was the information that had come in from 911 callers and was conveyed to officers by dispatch. The Complainant fit the description of the male in question; he was holding a knife, refusing to drop it, and intermittently lunging at officers with the knife in hand as he made his way southward toward Front Street. The Complainant was clearly subject to arrest.
Whether because he was intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol, or in the throes of acute mental distress, the officers seem to have appreciated from an early point that the Complainant was mentally unwell. With that in mind, they did what they could to contain the Complainant by ushering pedestrians away from the scene and attempting to deal with him from a distance. They pleaded with him to drop the knife and trained firearms and CEWs in his direction. The Complainant seemed oblivious to their entreaties, at times advancing upon the officers but mostly just continuing his trek toward Front Street. By the time the SO struck the Complainant from behind, multiple CEW discharges and a couple of pepper spray discharges had failed to have any effect on him. The former were hampered by the thick jacket the Complainant was wearing, the latter stymied by the wind blowing at the time. Even several intentional impacts between two police vehicles and the Complainant, executed a low speed, had failed to neutralize him in any way; the Complainant simply bumped off the cruiser and continued on his way.
Against this backdrop, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the use by the SO of his cruiser to strike the Complainant constituted unreasonable force. The SO says that he was concerned that the Complainant represented a real and present danger to the health and safety of the public at the time. The officer’s concerns, in my view, were not without foundation. There were people on Front Street who were at imminent risk of bodily harm or even death in the event the Complainant turned on them. That he might do so was not fanciful speculation; he had just attacked a man in the area of King Street and was behaving erratically while wielding a knife. And prior attempts to take the Complainant into custody via CEWs and pepper spray had not worked, with little prospect that continued resort to those weapons would be any more effective. It should be noted finally that the SO, cognizant of the risk of serious injury, approached and struck the Complainant at low speed; about 10 km/h, according to the officer. On this record, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the SO’s use of his cruiser was commensurate with the exigencies at hand.
In the final analysis, while I accept that some if not all of the Complainant’s injuries  were incurred in his collision with the SO’s cruiser, I am persuaded on reasonable grounds that his conduct fell within the ambit of justification prescribed by section 34 of the Criminal Code. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.
Date: April 19, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) Times are derived from the internal clocks of each weapon, and are not necessarily synchronized between weapons and with actual time. [Back to text]
- 2) The possibility remains that one or more of the Complainant’s fractures resulted from his collisions with other officers’ cruiser. In view of my conclusions with respect to the SO’s use of his vehicle, I am similarly of the view that the preceding impacts did not run afoul of the section 34 justification. [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.