SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OCI-025
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Mandate of the SIU
Under the SIU Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence was committed. If such grounds exist, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the official. Alternatively, in cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director cannot lay charges. Where no charges are laid, a report of the investigation is prepared and released publicly, except in the case of reports dealing with allegations of sexual assault, in which case the SIU Director may consult with the affected person and exercise a discretion to not publicly release the report having regard to the affected person’s privacy interests.
Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019Pursuant to section 34, certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- The name of, and any information identifying, a subject official, witness official, civilian witness or affected person.
- Information that may result in the identity of a person who reported that they were sexually assaulted being revealed in connection with the sexual assault.
- Information that, in the opinion of the SIU Director, could lead to a risk of serious harm to a person.
- Information that discloses investigative techniques or procedures.
- Information, the release of which is prohibited or restricted by law.
- Information in which a person’s privacy interest in not having the information published clearly outweighs the public interest in having the information published.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy ActPursuant to section14 (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 that could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter or an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding.
Pursuant to section 21 (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- The names of persons, including civilian witnesses, and subject and witness officials;
- 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.
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004Pursuant to this legislation, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Other proceedings, processes, and investigations
Information may also have 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.
A person sustains a “serious injury” for purposes of the SIU’s jurisdiction if they: sustain an injury as a result of which they are admitted to hospital; suffer a fracture to the skull, or to a limb, rib or vertebra; suffer burns to a significant proportion of their body; lose any portion of their body; or, as a result of an injury, experience a loss of vision or hearing.
In addition, a “serious injury” means any other injury sustained by a person that is likely to interfere with the person’s health or comfort and is not transient or trifling in nature.
This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into the serious injuries a 56-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered during an interaction with police.
Notification of the SIUOn January 21, 2021, four members of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) Neighborhood Response Team attended an apartment at an address on Croydon Avenue, Ottawa, regarding a previous domestic incident. Police officers encountered the Complainant. The Complainant locked himself in a room. The police officers forced the door open and during the arrest the Complainant and one of the police officers fell to the ground. The Complainant was taken to the Ottawa Civic Hospital and diagnosed with injuries. He was to be hospitalized for approximately three days.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 01/22/2021 at 8:52 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 01/22/2021 at 10:14 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 0
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):56-year-old male interviewed
The Complainant was interviewed on January 22, 2021.
Civilian Witnesses (CW)CW #1 Not interviewed (Unable to contact)
CW #2 Not interviewed (Unable to contact)
Subject Official (SO)SO Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject official’s legal right.
The subject official was interviewed on February 24, 2021.
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed on February 2, 2021.
The Scene The scene was located in the bedroom of an apartment at an address on Croydon Avenue, Ottawa.
Materials Obtained from Police Service Upon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from the OPS on January 26, 2021:
- Narrative-WO #2;
- Narrative-WO #3;
- Narrative-WO #1;
- Notes-WO #3;
- Notes-WO #1;
- Notes-WO #2;
- Arrest Detail;
- Arrest Policy;
- Computer-assisted Dispatch Call;
- Civilian Witness list;
- Prosecution Summary;
- Witness Statements (x3);
- Communications Recordings; and
- Use of Force Policy.
Seeing the officers, the Complainant sought and received their permission to attend the bedroom to get changed and speak with his lawyer before accompanying them to the police station. WO #2 and WO #3 were soon joined by the SO and WO #1. When after a period had passed and it appeared that the Complainant was not about to exit the bedroom anytime soon, WO #2 directed the SO to open the door.
CW #1 provided the officers a key to the bedroom. The SO used it to open the door, but it was closed shut again by the Complainant before the officers could enter. The SO then forced his way into the bedroom using his body weight to ram the door open. The officer immediately took hold of the Complainant and forced him to the floor, landing on top of him in the process. The Complainant was handcuffed behind his back, assisted to his feet and walked out of the apartment and down from the second floor.
Following his arrest, the Complainant complained of pain and an ambulance was summoned to the scene. The Complainant was taken to hospital and diagnosed with fractured left-sided ribs.
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. There is no suggestion raised in the evidence that the officers lacked the grounds to lawfully effect the Complainant’s arrest. Indeed, there is evidence that the Complainant expected as much when the officers attended at the apartment. Nor is there any controversy regarding the officers’ entry into the apartment to effect the arrest; they had been invited into the residence by the tenant, CW #1.
Thereafter, once the officers forced their way into the bedroom, made necessary by the Complainant’s indefinite delay, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the SO used excessive force in taking the Complainant into custody. In the bedroom at the time of the officer’s entry was a knife on the bed within the Complainant’s reach and a pit bull. In the circumstances, given the prospect of a potentially volatile and violent interaction with the Complainant, a contingency made more real by the Complainant’s delay in surrendering to police and his act of placing furniture up against the bedroom door to prevent access by the officers, it seems to me that the takedown was a tactic reasonably available to the officer to quickly neutralize any possible threat. The injury, it would appear, was not so much the direct result of the takedown, but occurred as the SO came down on the Complainant’s back with his weight. The officer says his tumble to the ground onto the Complainant was accidental. I accept the officer’s explanation at face value as there is nothing in the evidence to contradict the claim. At no point was the Complainant struck by any of the officers.
In the result, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the takedown fell afoul of the range of what was reasonably necessary in the circumstances to take the Complainant into custody. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges.
Date: May 10, 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.