SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OCI-026
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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 investigationsInformation 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 a serious injury sustained by a 57-year-old woman (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn January 22, 2021, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) reported to the SIU that, at approximately 1:57 p.m. that date, OPS officers were called to a grocery store in Ottawa. The call involved a woman who was refusing to wear a face mask, and who had been previously trespassed from the store for the same offence.
OPS officers were dispatched to the call. During the ensuing arrest of the woman, she struggled and was grounded. The Complainant complained of pain to her leg and an ambulance was called to the scene.
The complainant was transported to the Ottawa Civic Hospital (OCH), diagnosed with a tibial plateau fracture, and admitted for a consultation and surgery.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 01/25/2021 at 8:38 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 01/25/2021 at 11:30 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):57-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
The Complainant was interviewed on February 4, 2021.
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
The CWs were interviewed on January 28, 2021.
Subject OfficialsSO Declined interview, as is the subject official’s legal right. Notes received and reviewed.
Witness OfficialsWO Interviewed
The WO was interviewed on February 16, 2021.
Investigative DelayThe Complainant underwent orthopedic surgery in the OCH on January 26, 2021, following which she was in the intensive care unit for several days. Per medical staff at the hospital, she was not able to participate in an interview with SIU investigators or sign SIU Authorization for Release of Medical Information Forms until February 4, 2021.
Emergency Medical Service and Patient Health Records were not received by the SIU until February 25, 2021.
The Scene The scene of this incident was at a grocery store in Ottawa. At the time of this incident only one entrance was accessible due to COVID-19 protocols. From this entrance, one entered a glassed enclosed lobby area just prior to arriving at a set of automatic doors that led into the store proper. The floor of the lobby was a wet (from snow and ice being tracked into the lobby) ceramic tiled floor. Signage clearly indicated that persons entering the store must wear a face covering. All of the lobby area and store proper was under closed-circuit television (CCTV) video surveillance with no audio.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence 
Summary of OPS communication recordings January 22, 2021The officer that was recorded was the WO.
A man [known to be CW #1] is heard saying, “This is not a public place, this is private property,” followed by an OPS call-taker answering the phone. CW #1 requests police attend because a woman, whom he had ‘trespassed’ a week prior for not wearing a mask, was back, still not wearing a mask and wanting into the store. The woman [known to be the Complainant] is heard in the background explaining to someone else that she came back to take the fine so she could go to court and fight it.
The WO has a [prisoner] (known to be the Complainant). A minute later the WO requests an ambulance as her “[prisoner] is complaining about leg pain”.
The WO reports that an ambulance has arrived.
The WO requests a sergeant, as the Complainant is complaining her leg is broken.
Summary of CCTV footage from Grocery Store on January 22, 2021 1:40:17 p.m.
The Complainant, with no face covering on, entered the lobby. Loss Prevention Officer, CW #1, masked, was positioned by the window to the left of the Complainant.
CW #1 moved to block the entry of the Complainant as she walked toward the entrance door of the store. They engaged in conversation.
Store Manager/Bookkeeper, CW #2, entered the lobby, and spoke from about two metres away of the Complainant after he handed CW #1 a cellular telephone. CW #1 appeared to make a call, and then returned the phone to CW #2, who made a call.
Store Owner, CW #3, entered the lobby, and appeared to speak with CW #1 and the Complainant.
The SO arrived. The Complainant stood with her back to the front window. She had what looked to be a cellular telephone in her left hand. The SO stood opposite the Complainant, about two metres away, and appeared to be having a conversation with her. CW #1 participated in the conversation.
The WO arrived and stood to the SO’s left listening to the conversation. CW #3 spoke with the WO. Both officers, wearing masks, got a little closer to the Complainant. The WO appeared to also be speaking with the Complainant.
The WO reached with her left hand toward the Complainant. The Complainant moved slightly to avoid the WO’s grasp and then stepped back a few steps.
Both officers were face-to-face with the Complainant. They reached toward her, and she appeared to resist their grasp by moving. The WO appeared just behind her peripheral vision trying to grasp the Complainant by her right side. The SO was trying to grasp her left side. They both took hold of the Complainant and propelled her forward a short distance.
The officers moved the Complainant forward, and her left foot could be seen planted firmly on the tile floor. The SO had hold of the Complainant’s left arm, now behind her back and standing behind her. The WO was still to her right side and behind her. The Complainant was slightly bent forward. Both officers struggled with the Complainant. She appeared to pivot left 45 degrees or was pulled backwards by the SO, still on her feet. The officers and the Complainant struggled. The officers were trying to get her hands behind her back, and she resisted.
A sweeping action of an officer’s foot is seen and the Complainant was taken down face first to the floor. It appeared her left leg was bent as she went down and her right side appeared to be controlled by the WO as she kneeled on the Complainant with her left leg.
The Complainant was moved about 45 degrees to her left. CW #2 was about four metres away; his attention was also toward customers wanting to enter. CW #1’s view was from about two metres away, closest to the Complainant’s feet. CW #3 had left the lobby.
The Complainant lay face down on the floor; her feet were visible. The Complainant’s backpack was removed as she lay on the floor. Both officers were kneeling on either side of her with the SO on her left and the WO on her right.
Both officers helped the Complainant to her feet. Her upper body remained bent over; her hands had been handcuffed behind her back. She appeared to favour her left leg and tried to sit down. She was then stood up by the officers. The WO searched the front of the Complainant, who was keeping weight off her left foot.
CW #3 returned into the camera view. The officers assisted the Complainant toward the exit door to the street. The Complainant did not put any weight on her left foot and hopped outside.
Summary of Facebook Posts sent to SIU Investigator on January 26, 2021 Facebook post 001
5:48 minutes in length - audio video recording by the Complainant on her cellular telephone. The recording commences with an image of the Complainant turning on the recording mode. CW #3 is depicted. The Complainant can be heard saying, “You guys have no right to stop me from shopping, I have a mask exemption.” CW #3 replies, “This is private property,” and the Complainant replies, “It is a private corporation for public use, I will bring my fine to court, and I will make sure you guys know that it is wrong.”
The Complainant then scans around with her camera. The presence of CW #1, CW #2 and CW #3 is captured. One of them tells the Complainant that filming in the store is not authorized. She replies that she is just protecting herself. The Complainant says she has a medical mask exemption and insists she has not been trespassed because she did not have a legal document saying such.
At 00:03:51 hours into the recording, the SO enters and faces the Complainant. He makes mention of her not wearing a mask. She says it is not that she does not want to, but that she is medically exempt. CW #1 then tells the SO that the Complainant has been ‘trespassed’.
The SO tries to explain CW #1’s authority to the Complainant; however, she dismisses it, saying, “You are the police, protect me and serve, if you don’t want to protect me, then serve me a ticket… I’m here for a ticket, I want to go to court and fight this insanity.” The SO asks the Complainant, “Are you refusing to leave the property?” She responds, “I’m not refusing, I will leave, but I’d like to have a ticket, to go to court and fight this because it doesn’t make sense I have medical for not putting anything on my face. I keep telling everybody that.”
At 00:05:37 hours into the recording, the WO comes into the recording, holds up her right hand with two fingers raised and says to the Complainant, “Is this the second time?” The Complainant tries to explain that it was CW #1 that was saying that, but that she was just waiting for a ticket. The WO moves toward the Complainant, who says, “Don’t touch me, don’t touch my phone, you’re live…on Face.” The SO and WO then move in towards the Complainant, and she moves backwards, and the screen goes black.
Facebook post 002 - a screen grab
This post is a screen grab of a post from the Complainant under her Facebook name on January 25, 2021 at 9:16 a.m.
“Today is d surgery for a confrontation gone bad I contacted everyone I could think of for legal advice I have extreme PTSD I wonder why people r mean violent craze I had no Bailey in my coffee this morning lol. I emailed and did formal complaint to OIPRD office of d independent director to investigate d cops that beat me up.”
Facebook post 004 - an audio video recording on a cellular telephone
The Complainant’s voice is heard. She is walking on a sidewalk and is saying that she is going back to a grocery store. She says, “We’ll see how far I get and how long I’ll be able to stay until I get trespassed.” She enters the lobby of the Independent store, turns her camera to a man wearing a blue medical mask [known to be CW #1, the loss prevention officer] who looks at her and says, “You’re not allowed in here… I trespassed you last time… the police even talked to you, you gotta leave.” The Complainant disagrees saying, “You could not trespass somebody on the basis of mask exemption.” CW #1 again tells her to leave. The Complainant says, “Call the cops, I will take the fine standing up and then go to court…” The Complainant asks what she was being trespassed for and CW #1 replies, “For being on the property without a mask.” The Complainant tells him she has a mask exemption, and he tells her she has to leave adding that he will arrest the Complainant if she does not leave. She disagrees with his authority and tells him to call police. CW #1 tells the Complainant she is under arrest for trespassing and she questions his authority. He says he will release her to the police.
CW #2, the store manager, arrives and reiterates that she was on private property. CW #1 calls police at 00:03:17 hours into the recording saying there is a female there who has previously been trespassed for not wearing a mask and will not leave. The Complainant is heard in the background saying she is there to provide for herself and that she came back to take the fine and go to court.
Materials Obtained from Police Service The SIU obtained the following records from the OPS between February 3, 2021, and February 24, 2021:
• Narrative of the WO and SO;
• Notes of OPS SIU Liaison;
• Notes of WO and SO;
• OPS Computer-assisted Dispatch;
• OPS communication recordings;
• OPS Disclosure;
• OPS Policy-Arrest;
• OPS Policy-Release of Persons;
• OPS Policy-Use of Force;
• OPS Provincial Offence Notice information;
• OPS Queries-the SO;
• OPS Queries-the WO;
• OPS Record Management System contacts;
• OPS witness contacts; and
• Civilian witness statements taken by OPS.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the following other sources:
• CCTV footage of January 5, 2021 and January 22, 2021 from the grocery store;
• Ambulance Call and Incident Reports from Ottawa Paramedic Service;
• Patient Health Records of the Complainant from OCH; and
• Facebook Posts (x7) by the Complainant including cellular telephone recordings and screen grabs.
In the early afternoon of January 22, 2021, the Complainant arrived at a grocery store in Ottawa. A couple of weeks prior, she had been banned from the premises for not wearing a face mask or shield in line with the store’s COVID-19 protocols and for other behaviour (consuming products not paid for, video recording inside the store). Once through the entrance doors, the Complainant was confronted by the store’s loss prevention officer, CW #1. CW #1 prevented the Complainant from entering past the lobby into the store proper and reminded her that she was prohibited from being on the property. The Complainant challenged CW #1’s authority and refused to leave. The store manager and owner, CW #2 and CW #3, respectively, attended and also tried to prevail on the Complainant to leave. Still, she refused to leave, insisting that the police be called so she could be given a trespass ticket, which she then intended on fighting in court. The police were called.
The SO was the first officer to arrive at the scene, followed within minutes by the WO. The officers spoke with CW #1 and then, turning to the Complainant, told her she was trespassing and had to leave. The Complainant failed to do so, again asking that she be issued a ticket, at which point she would leave. The officers advised her she was under arrest.
The Complainant resisted as the SO and WO each took a hold of her left and right arms, respectively, and tried to handcuff them behind her back. She refused to surrender her hands and, instead, kept them tucked closely to her lower torso. After a period, the officers decided to ground the Complainant. Using their legs against the Complainant’s legs, they tripped her to the floor. The Complainant landed front first. Shortly thereafter, and without further incident, the Complainant’s arms were handcuffed and she was assisted to her feet.
The Complainant complained that her leg had been broken and was seen to favour her left leg as she was escorted outside. An ambulance arrived at the scene and transported the Complainant to hospital, where she was diagnosed with a fracture of the left tibial plateau. The injury required surgery.
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,
Section 2(1), Trespass to Property Act -- Trespass an offence
(a) without the express permission of the occupier, the proof of which rests on the defendant,
(i) enters on premises when entry is prohibited under this Act, or(ii) engages in an activity on premises when the activity is prohibited under this Act; or
(b) does not leave the premises immediately after he or she is directed to do so by the occupier of the premises or a person authorized by the occupier,
Section 9 (1), Trespass to Property Act – Arrest without warrant on premises9 (1) A police officer, or the occupier of premises, or a person authorized by the occupier may arrest without warrant any person he or she believes on reasonable and probable grounds to be on the premises in contravention of section 2.
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. The Complainant knew full well that she had been barred from attending the grocery store and she did so anyway, hoping, it would appear, to obtain a trespassing ticket. It seems she had plans to challenge the ticket in court to vindicate her claim that the store had no right to bar entry of persons who refused to wear a face covering on the basis of a medical exemption. Once through the front doors and into a lobby area, the Complainant was again warned that she was trespassing and directed to leave, first by store staff and then the SO and WO. Whatever the merits of the Complainant’s position, the fact is that the SO and WO were aware that she had also been banned because of other behaviour unrelated to her stance against face masks, namely, consuming products before they had been paid for and video recording while on the premises in contravention of store policy. As a result, her entry into the store was prohibited under the Trespass to Property Act for reasons unrelated to any claim of disability. In all the circumstances, I am satisfied that the SO and WO were within their rights in arresting the Complainant under section 9 of the Trespass to Property Act.
Thereafter, I am satisfied that the force used by the officers did not exceed what was reasonably necessary in the circumstances to effect the Complainant’s arrest. While the parties remained on their feet, the officers attempted to wrestle control of the Complainant’s arms as she resisted their efforts to place her in handcuffs. This went on for a short period before the officers decided it would assist matters to bring the Complainant to the floor. The grounding, in my view, was a tactic reasonably available to the officers; it was neither precipitous given their failed efforts to subdue the Complainant on their feet, nor was it manifestly heavy-handed. Though I accept that the maneuver was the cause of the Complainant’s fractured left knee, it does not appear on the evidence that the takedown was anything more than an effort to place the Complainant in a position of disadvantage. On this record, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the force used by the officers was excessive.
In the result, as I am satisfied that the SO and WO comported themselves lawfully in deciding to arrest the Complainant and in the amount of force they brought to bear to effect their purpose, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case.
Date: May 11, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) The following records contain sensitive personal information and are not being released pursuant to section 34(2) of the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019. The material portions of the records are summarized below. [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.