SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OFP-039


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Mandate of the SIU

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving an official where there has been death, serious injury, the discharge of a firearm at a person or an allegation of sexual assault. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019 (SIU Act), officials are defined as police officers, special constables of the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers under the Legislative Assembly Act. The SIU’s jurisdiction covers more than 50 municipal, regional and provincial police services across Ontario.

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.

Information Restrictions

Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019

Pursuant 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 Act

Pursuant 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, 2004

Pursuant 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.

Mandate Engaged

Pursuant to section 15 of the SIU Act, the SIU may investigate the conduct of officials, be they police officers, special constables of the Niagara Parks Commission or peace officers under the Legislative Assembly Act, that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault or the discharge of a firearm at a person.

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 discharge of a firearm by the police at a 43-year-old woman (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On February 4, 2021, at 1:22 a.m., the Peel Regional Police (PRP) reported the following.

On February 3, 2021, at about 10:45 p.m., the PRP responded to a residence near Tomken Road and Bloor Street in relation to a woman in distress. The woman had attended the address, armed herself with a knife, and would not let the occupants leave the residence. The woman began cutting at her wrists and then locked herself in an upstairs bathroom. Both uniform and tactical police officers attended the scene. Tactical officers were able to partially open the bathroom door and deploy pepper spray. Once further into the bathroom, police officers deployed a controlled energy weapon (CEW) and ARWEN, disarmed the woman, and took her into custody. The woman was subsequently taken to a hospital in Mississauga.

The Team

Date and time team dispatched: 02/04/2021 at 2:26 a.m.

Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 02/04/2021 at 5:00 a.m.

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1

Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):

43-year-old female interviewed

The Complainant was interviewed on February 4, 2021.

Civilian Witness (CW)

CW Interviewed

The civilian witness was interviewed on February 4, 2021.

Subject Official (SO)

SO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right

Witness Officials (WO)

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

WO #1, WO #2 and WO #3 were interviewed on February 9, 2021.


The Scene

On February 4, 2021, an SIU Forensic Investigator attended a two-storey home near Tomken Road and Bloor Street. The front door led into a foyer. A set of stairs led to the upstairs where there were bedrooms and a bathroom. The bathroom was across the hall at the top of the stairs. There was a quantity of a white powder all over the hallway and the bathroom floor.

A knife, with red staining on it, was to the left of the bathroom doorway and at the entrance of the bedroom immediately south of the bathroom. An empty ARWEN cannister was on the hallway floor in front of the bathroom doorway. A second ARWEN cannister was just inside the bathroom door.

Two CEW cartridges were also on the floor. The first was on the hall floor just outside the bathroom door while the second was just inside the bathroom under the sink. Several items were on the bathroom floor.

These included several CEW blast doors, two green ARWEN projectiles, several yellow and pink AFIDS, and two gas cannister plugs.

A red blood-like substance was noted on the bathroom floor by the door hinge as well as the tile floor and side of the bathtub at the far end of the bathroom.

Figure 1 – The SO’s ARWEN

Figure 2 – The Complainant’s knife

Physical Evidence

On February 4, 2021, the following items were collected by an SIU Forensic Investigator:

  • Black-handled knife with red staining;
  • ARWEN cartridge x 2;
  • CEW cartridge x 2;
  • A swab of red staining on floor;
  • CEW blast door x 2;
  • ARWEN projectile x 2;
  • Yellow and pink CEW AFIDS;
  • Gas gun cannister plug x 2; and
  • Swab from knife.

Forensic Evidence

Summary of CEW Data

The CEW was downloaded and a report generated. There were two cartridges in the weapon. On February 4, 2021, the CEW was test-fired and the files were interpreted with respect to time of firings of the CEWs and duration of discharge.

The following is a summary of events on February 3, 2021, starting at 11:08 p.m.:

  • At 11:09:30 p.m., [1] there was a trigger event with an associated discharge of 5 seconds;
  • From 11:09:35 p.m. to 11:10:39 p.m., there were 9 additional activations ranging from one second to 9 seconds in duration;
  • At 11:10:41 p.m., there was a trigger event associated with a discharge of 5 seconds; and
  • From 11:10:54 p.m. to 11:13:14 p.m., there were 8 additional activations ranging from one to 16 seconds in duration.

There were approximately 17 events in which the CEW was in arc mode.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

Summary of PRP 911 / Communications Recordings Summary

On February 3, 2021, the Complainant called the police on three occasions about her building. She indicated that she had lived in the apartment building for five years and had not seen her friends but heard voices outside her unit, which she did not want to listen to.

The Complainant was concerned about being robbed and that she could not sleep at night. When the call-taker asked her if she had any mental health issues, she replied, “No.”

On the same day at 10:45 p.m., the CW called about her friend, the Complainant, who was visiting her home in Mississauga and had a knife. The Complainant was in the living room and wanted to commit suicide. The knife was described as eight to ten inches in length. The Complainant had not injured herself or threatened anybody at that time. Later it would be reported that the Complainant’s wrist was bleeding. The Complainant refused to put the knife down and she would not let anybody open the front door. Besides the Complainant, there were two children in the residence. They were instructed to stay away from the Complainant. The children were reported to be upstairs in a bedroom. The CW reported that the Complainant went into the bathroom, and police officers were heard inside the house.

Materials Obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from the PRP between February 4 and 8, 2021:
  • 911/Communication Recordings;
  • Notes-WO #3;
  • Notes-WO #1;
  • Notes-WO #2;
  • Notes-WO #4;
  • Comms Audio Reports (x3);
  • Event Chronology;
  • Occurrence Report;
  • Officer Involvement;
  • Person Details;
  • Team Training Records-Arwen;
  • Training Record-Arwen Qualifier; and
  • TASER X2 Download.

Incident Narrative

The material events are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU and may be briefly summarized.

At about 10:45 p.m., the PRP received a 911 call from the CW calling to report a disturbance at her home near Tomken Road and Bloor Street, Mississauga. According to the CW, a friend of hers, the Complainant, was at her residence threatening to take her own life. She noted that the Complainant was in possession of a knife, which she refused to put down, and would not let anyone open the front door. Also present in the home were the CW’s two children. Officers were dispatched to the address.

Uniformed officers were the first to arrive at the address followed closely by a tactical team, the latter consisting of WO #1, the SO, and WO #3 and WO #2. The Complainant had locked herself inside the second-floor bathroom by this time. The CW and her kids were removed from the home and the team of tactical officers took up positions on the staircase to the second floor. The Complainant was non-responsive as officers encouraged her to exit the bathroom, a short distance across a hall from the top of the stairs, with her hands empty.

Growing increasingly concerned with the Complainant’s well-being, particularly when they noticed blood on the floor under the bathroom door, WO #1 decided to force entry into the room. The SO kicked at the door and dislodged the doorknob from its place. Through the opening where the doorknob used to be, WO #1 deployed Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) powder via his gas launcher. The substance did not appear to have any effect on the Complainant, who was seen standing in the bathroom, but she did move away from the door allowing the officers to fully open it.

The Complainant had a large kitchen knife in her right hand, which she used to cut at her left wrist, and was promptly met with a CEW discharge fired by WO #2. The Complainant froze with the CEW deployment, but resumed cutting herself when the weapon had finished cycling its current. At one point, the Complainant dropped the knife, but she was able to quickly retrieve it again. As WO #2 continued to discharge his CEW, WO #1 deployed his gas launcher again. Additional OC powder was released into the room, but still the Complainant was not incapacitated. Shortly thereafter, the SO, armed with an ARWEN, fired twice at the Complainant. The Complainant dropped the knife after the second discharge, after which the officers moved in and handcuffed her arms behind her back.

Following her arrest, the Complainant was taken to hospital where she was admitted for psychiatric examination.

A bloodstained black-handled knife, with a blade measuring 21 centimetres in length, was recovered from the scene.

Relevant Legislation

Section 25(1), Criminal Code -- Protection of persons acting under authority

25 (1) Every one who is required or authorized by law to do anything in the administration or enforcement of the law
(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,
is, if he acts on reasonable grounds, justified in doing what he is required or authorized to do and in using as much force as is necessary for that purpose.

Section 17, Mental Health Act -- Action by police officer

17 Where a police officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a person is acting or has acted in a disorderly manner and has reasonable cause to believe that the person,

(a) has threatened or attempted or is threatening or attempting to cause bodily harm to himself or herself;
(b) has behaved or is behaving violently towards another person or has caused or is causing another person to fear bodily harm from him or her; or
(c) has shown or is showing a lack of competence to care for himself or herself,
and in addition the police officer is of the opinion that the person is apparently suffering from mental disorder of a nature or quality that likely will result in,
(d) serious bodily harm to the person;
(e) serious bodily harm to another person; or
(f) serious physical impairment of the person,

and that it would be dangerous to proceed under section 16, the police officer may take the person in custody to an appropriate place for examination by a physician.

Analysis and Director's Decision

On February 4, 2021, the PRP contacted the SIU to report that one of their officers – the SO – had fired an ARWEN at the Complainant. The SIU opened a file and the SO was identified as a subject official for purposes of the investigation. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the ARWEN discharge.

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. By all accounts, the Complainant was unwell and in mental distress at the time of these events. Believing she was in danger from unknown persons, she had sought refuge at a friend’s home. The Complainant’s paranoia escalated, however, to the point that she armed herself with a knife and threatened to take her own life. Concerned for the Complainant’s well-being, the CW called police and conveyed what was happening. In the circumstances, I am satisfied that the Complainant was subject to lawful apprehension under section 17 of the Mental Health Act.

Thereafter, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the force used by the officers and, in particular, the SO’s ARWEN discharges, was excessive. The Complainant was harming herself with a knife and prompt action was required if serious injury or death was to be averted. One or more of the officers could have rushed into the bathroom to overwhelm and disarm the Complainant with physical force, but that would have placed the officers within arm’s reach of someone armed with a weapon capable of inflicting lethal injury. Instead, they decided, reasonably in my view, to attempt to incapacitate the Complainant from a distance with the use of less-lethal force. Here too, the force deployed by the officers was not indiscriminate. Rather, the ARWEN discharges came only after OC gas and CEW discharges had proven ineffective in neutralizing the threat.

In the result, as I am satisfied that the SO used no more force than was reasonably necessary to safely take the Complainant into lawful custody, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case and the file is closed.

Date: June 4, 2021

Electronically signed by

Joseph Martino
Special Investigations Unit


  • 1) The times are derived from the internal timeclock of the CEW, which are not necessarily synchronous with actual time. [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.