SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-TCD-293


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Mandate of the SIU

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. The Unit’s jurisdiction covers more than 50 municipal, regional and provincial police services across Ontario.

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.

Information Restrictions

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. 
Pursuant to section 21 of FIPPA (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this document. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
  • 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.

Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)

Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.

Other proceedings, processes, and investigations

Information 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.

Mandate Engaged

The Unit’s investigative jurisdiction is limited to those incidents where there is a serious injury (including sexual assault allegations) or death in cases involving the police.

“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 the death of a 45-year-old man (the “Complainant”) during an interaction with police.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On November 2, 2020, at 8:21 p.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) notified the SIU of the following.

On November 2, 2020, at approximately 4:15 p.m., the TPS got a call for a person in crisis in the area of Dundas Street East and Bayview Avenue. The man ended up on the overpass which traverses the Don River and the Don Valley Parkway (DVP). The TPS engaged the man in negotiations for approximately three hours with the assistance of Civilian Witness (CW) #2 but at approximately 7:27 p.m., the man jumped from the bridge.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1

The area was canvassed for witnesses and closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. The Forensic Investigator completed a scene examination and took photographs. The SIU Affected Persons Coordinator was engaged.


45-year-old male, deceased

Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed

Witness Officers (WO)

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary

Subject Officers (SO)

SO #1 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right
SO #2 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right


The Scene

The Complainant fell onto the Lower Don River Trail directly below the south edge of the Dundas Street East overpass. Dundas Street travels in an east/west direction. This was a two-lane roadway with bicycle paths on both sides of the roadway. There were sidewalks on each side. A taped-off area along the south edge of the bridge and a piece of yellow caution tape was affixed to the railing, showing the approximate location where the Complainant had fallen from the bridge. Directly opposite this area, along the north edge of the bridge, was police equipment and rappelling gear utilized by the Emergency Task Force (ETF) during negotiations.

The height of the railing was 1.43 metres. The distance from the top of the railing to the impact area below measured at 12.25 metres.

The bicycle path consisted of asphalt and travelled in a north/south direction along the west side of the Don River. The Complainant was found lying on the bicycle path, covered with an orange ambulance blanket. He was lying on his back with his head orientated west. The jacket and other upper garments had been cut back to expose his chest to facilitate Emergency Medical Services intervention. There were obvious signs of trauma to the head area.

Figure 1 – The location of the descent from the Dundas Street East overpass

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

Summary of the TPS Communications Recordings

On November 2, 2020, at 3:57 p.m., a 911 call was received relating to a possible threaten suicide. Several follow-up 911 calls were received reporting the same incident. The address provided for the person [now known to be the Complainant] was the Complainant’s residence. The callers had read Facebook posts. The Complainant had said he was going to die by suicide.

Several police officers responded to the Complainant’s residence. Further 911 calls were received regarding the Complainant being on the bridge on Dundas Street over the DVP.

The TPS communications centre asked for and received the Complainant’s cellular telephone number in the hopes of locating it on the global positioning system.

TPS determined the call at the Complainant’s residence was associated to the Dundas Street bridge call and several police officers were directed to that area.

WO #3 reported the Complainant was located on the bridge on Dundas Street over the DVP. He was standing at a pillar on the south side of the bridge on the wrong side of the bridge railing. He was smoking and holding onto the railing with his left hand. The Complainant was determined to die by suicide. He said he had taken sleeping pills earlier. The Complainant would not allow police officers to get closer than a few feet to him.

The ETF was notified of the call and attended. The Marine Unit sent resources to the area of the Don River near Dundas Street.

WO #4 and CW #3 attended to assist in communicating with the Complainant.

An enquiry was made of Toronto Fire Service to see if there was some apparatus available that could be used to attempt to catch the Complainant if he jumped.

CW #2 attended the scene and assisted.

The Complainant dropped from the bridge.

Audio Recordings Made by the Complainant’s Friends at the ETF’s Request

One of the strategies attempted by the TPS and CW #2 when dealing with the Complainant was to have messages recorded and played to him. The hope was the messages would be enough to convince the Complainant to not jump from the bridge. CW #1, and two other persons, had recorded messages for the Complainant.

Summary of the CCTV and Cell Phone Footage in the Area

The Mercedes Dealership located at 761 Dundas Street had no cameras that captured any video of the incident on the Dundas Street overpass for the DVP.

The Land Rover dealership located at 1177 Dundas Street East had cameras pointed in the direction of the incident. The camera view was from several hundred metres away. The video was of no evidentiary value.

A witness took a video utilizing his cellular telephone. The video showed the DVP overpass on Dundas Street and police vehicles on the bridge. The camera view was several hundred metres away and there was nothing discernible that could be seen regarding any interaction between the police and the Complainant. There was no evidentiary value in the video.

Summary of the In-Car Camera Systems (ICCS) from Police Cruiser 1 and Police Cruiser 2

4:14:35 p.m.
Police cruiser 1 arrived at the location on Dundas Street near the Mercedes dealership. The police cruiser was pointed west on Dundas Street. WO #3 could be heard speaking to the Complainant. WO #3 attempted to have a general conversation. The video did not show any images of the interaction between the police officers and the Complainant.

4:16:32 p.m.
Police cruiser 2 arrived and stopped on the bridge east of the Mercedes car dealership.

4:17:35 p.m.
The camera from police cruiser 2 was adjusted to point in a southerly direction. The Complainant could be seen standing on the south side of the bridge railing holding on with his left hand. He was speaking to the police officers.

4:32:10 p.m.
CW #3 was standing on the bridge east of the Complainant. CW #3 was conversing with the Complainant.

5:24:30 p.m.
An ETF police officer arrived and was standing on Dundas Street beside the driver’s door of police cruiser 2. The ETF police officer was attempting to converse with the Complainant.

5:36:21 p.m.
The video ended. [1]

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
  • Emotionally Disturbed Persons (EDP) Policy;
  • EDP Policy – Appendix A;
  • EDP Policy – Appendix B;
  • Computer-assisted Dispatch Event Details Report;
  • ETF Negotiators Licences - SO #2 and SO #1;
  • Policy – Incidents Requiring the ETF;
  • Notes, WO #2;
  • Notes, WO #1;
  • Notes, WO #5;
  • Notes, WO #3;
  • Notes, WO #4;
  • Communication Recordings;
  • TPS ICCS (x2 vehicles);
  • Audios of the Complainant’s friends recorded by ETF; and
  • Occurrence with Supplementary Reports.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from non-police sources:
  • Ambulance Call Reports (x4), Incident Summaries (x2) and Incident Reports (x7);
  • Email from CW #1;
  • Video from the Land Rover dealership on Dundas Street East; and
  • Video from a witness taken on his cellular phone.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with a number of police and civilian witnesses. As was their legal right, the subject officers chose not to interview with the SIU or authorize the release of their notes.

In the afternoon of November 2, 2020, the Complainant posted a Facebook message suggesting he was intent on ending his life that day. The Complainant had struggled with his mental health since his wife and their dog were killed by a motorist a number of years ago. He had been to see a series of psychologists and psychiatrists for help, but nothing seemed to work, including the medications he was prescribed. Police were alerted to the Facebook message and dispatched officers to the Complainant’s home.

The Complainant was not in his home. Rather, after posting the message, he had walked to the Dundas Street bridge over the Don River where he scaled the southside railing and stood on the outer ledge over the western bank of the river.

At about 4:15 p.m., WO #3 located the Complainant on the bridge and drove past him in her cruiser, stopping just west of his location. The officer exited her vehicle and asked the Complainant if she could talk to him. When he agreed, WO #3 walked to within three metres of the Complainant, who was standing facing Dundas Street. She was soon joined on the bridge by WO #1 and WO #2, who also took up positions around the Complainant at a distance. WO #3 spoke with the Complainant about what was bothering him. He mentioned the death of his wife and indicated he had thought of dying ever since she passed away. They spoke about his friends and family, and the medical help he had sought over the years, none of which, he explained, had done him any good. The Complainant was adamant that he would die soon and warned the officers not to come any closer. WO #1 and WO #2 also tried speaking with the Complainant but were similarly unable to change his mind. The Complainant indicated he had taken sleeping pills and was waiting to get drowsy before he would jump.

WO #4 and CW #3 of the TPS Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT) were deployed to assist on the bridge and arrived at about 4:30 p.m. CW #3, a mental health professional, was introduced to the Complainant. From a distance of a metre or two, the Complainant made it clear to CW #3 that he was determined to end his life and there was nothing that anyone could do to stop him.

The ETF was also dispatched to the bridge, arriving at about 5:00 p.m. Among their ranks were SO #2 and SO #1, who took the lead in the negotiations. CW #2, a forensic psychiatrist, arrived at the scene at about 6:00 p.m., spoke with the Complainant and gave advice in the course of the police operation. The doctor asked the Complainant to consider the fact that he was contemplating a long term solution for what could be a short term problem. When the topic turned to the failed treatments the Complainant had received, CW #2 offered to take him to CAMH (Centre for Addition and Mental Health) for help. The Complainant was not receptive.

At about 7:30 p.m., the Complainant finished a cigarette, closed his eyes, rocked back and forth, and, saying, “I love you” to his wife, fell backwards off the bridge.

The Complainant fell approximately ten metres onto a pathway by the river. Paramedics in the area administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation until about 7:42 p.m., at which time the Complainant was pronounced deceased.

Cause of Death

The pathologist at autopsy attributed the Complainant’s death to “multiple blunt impact trauma”.

Relevant Legislation

Section 219, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing death

219 (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
(a) in doing anything, or
(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.

(2) For the purposes of this section, duty means a duty imposed by law.

Section 220, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm

220 Every person who by criminal negligence causes death to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable

(a) where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.

Analysis and Director's Decision

The Complainant died when he jumped from the Dundas Street bridge over the Don River and Don Valley Parkway on November 2, 2020. As TPS officers were on the bridge and had engaged with him in the hours prior to his death, the SIU was notified and opened a file. SO #1 and SO #2 were among the TPS officers present and identified as subject officers for purposes of the SIU investigation. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either of the subject officers committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s death.

The offence that arises for consideration is criminal negligence causing death contrary to section 220 of the Criminal Code. The crime captures behaviour that demonstrates a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of others. Simple negligence is insufficient to ground liability; rather, what is required, in part, is conduct that amounts to a marked and substantial departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was any want of care in the manner in which the subject officers approached the situation involving the Complainant that contributed to his death and was sufficiently egregious as to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.

A police officer’s foremost duty is the preservation of life. The officers who responded to the Dundas Street overpass, including SO #2 and SO #1, were acting in the discharge of that duty as they tried to prevent the Complainant from harming himself.

There is nothing that would give cause for concern in the efforts of police officers prior to the arrival of SO #2 and SO #1. They spoke to the Complainant and impressed on him that they were there to help. Warned by the Complainant not to get too close or he would jump, the officers maintained their distance and did what they could to de-escalate the situation. When the Complainant expressed concern about the presence of a pedestrian on the pathway below him, WO #1 assured him that he would remove the person, and did so. These efforts included the use of a TPS MCIT, which paired an officer specially trained in incidents involving persons in mental health crisis, WO #4, with a mental health professional, CW #3.

In time, the TPS ETF was deployed to the scene. ETF officers are trained to deal with life and death situations, such as the one at hand, with access to specialized resources to assist in their efforts. SO #2 and SO #1 took over the negotiations and tried various things to make progress with the Complainant. These included having the Complainant’s sister and friends make voice recordings which were played for the Complainant, and bringing the Complainant’s dog out to the scene. The services of a psychiatrist – CW #2 – were also enlisted. CW #2 arrived at the scene and even took a turn at personally speaking with the Complainant thinking the presence of a physician might make a difference. In the meantime, the fire department was asked about any equipment they might have in their possession to protect the Complainant should he fall. No such equipment was available. As for a more proactive posture, more than one officer explained that rushing the Complainant was never a realistic option given the size of the railing that separated the Complainant from the roadway. On this record, I am satisfied that the ETF, and SO #2 and SO #1 in particular, comported themselves throughout with due regard for the life and safety of the Complainant.
In the final analysis, though the police operation on the bridge was unable to prevent the Complainant tragically taking his own life, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any of the officers, including SO #2 and SO #1, transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case.

Before closing the file, I note for the record evidence suggesting that WO #3 and WO #1 turned off their in-car camera systems at one point because they thought the Complainant was about to jump, and they did not want to video record that moment. While one can appreciate the human impulse behind the officers’ decision, their conduct had the effect of depriving this office of potentially very relevant evidence. These systems are in place, after all, to capture important events as they unfold. I will be raising this matter in my reporting letter to the chief of police as conduct of this nature could have far-reaching consequences in other cases.

Date: May 17, 2021

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Special Investigations Unit


  • 1) The TPS explained WO #3 and WO #1 had turned off the ICCSs, because they thought the Complainant was about to jump, and they did not want to videotape that moment. [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.