SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OCI-058
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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 the serious injury a 25-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered during an interaction with the police.
Notification of the SIUOn February 22, 2021, at 3:28 p.m., the Windsor Police Service (WPS) notified the SIU of the Complainant’s injury.
WPS reported that on February 22, 2021, at 1:36 p.m., the WPS attended an apartment in the area of Mill Street and Felix Avenue for a domestic disturbance call. When police officers arrived, the Complainant fled the scene. The Complainant managed to escape and was apprehended a short time after.
A WPS Canine Unit (K9) had tracked the Complainant and he was confronted by a WPS police service dog (PSD).
The Complainant sustained a dog bite injury. He was transported to the hospital and ten stitches were applied to close his wound.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 02/22/2021 at 4:17 p.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 02/23/2021 at 8:35 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):
25-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
The Complainant was interviewed on February 23, 2021.
Subject Official (SO)SO
Declined interview, as is the subject official’s legal right. Notes received and reviewed.
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed between March 1 and 8, 2021.
Additionally, the notes from five other officials were received and reviewed.
The Scene The scene was the area between two single family homes at 732 and 738 Mill Street. The Complainant was in the walkway area between the homes when located by WPS police officers.
On request of SIU investigators, WPS provided photographs taken by WO #5 of the scene. Additionally, an SIU Forensic Investigator attended and photographed the scene and surrounding area.
Canvasses by SIU and WPS did not locate any video of the incident or eyewitnesses.
Video/Audio/Photographic EvidenceWPS Communications Recordings
On request of SIU investigators, on February 24, 2021 the WPS provided the communications recordings for the incident involving the Complainant on February 22, 2021. The recordings captured information from communications staff and WPS responding police officers. The following is a summary of the communications recordings.
At 1:08 p.m., there was a 911 call to the WPS communications centre reporting a domestic disturbance at an apartment [address provided], the residence of the Complainant’s ex-girlfriend. It was noted there were previous domestic calls to the address involving the Complainant. There were children in the residence. WPS police officers were dispatched.
At 1:13 p.m., there was a second 911 call, reporting a woman screaming and being choked. A third 911 call was received reporting loud bangs from the living room area of residence.
At 1:17 p.m., WPS police officers arrived on scene.
At 1:21 p.m., WO #2 reported a man running south through the parking lot, coming up towards Mill Street. A description of the man was provided.
At 1:22 p.m., there was a broadcast regarding a male wanted for domestic assault. A request was made for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to attend the residence. The female had a cut on her nose and had been choked.
At 1:23 p.m., there was a broadcast that the man had last been seen running through an alley parallel to Mill Street.
At 1:24 p.m., a K9 Unit was requested to attend.
At 1:26 p.m., the identity of the man was confirmed as the Complainant. The Complainant was last seen around Ryan and Mill Streets.
At 1:28 p.m., there was a broadcast regarding the Complainant being wanted for assault with a weapon, mischief to property and choking. There was a request for containment to be set up in area.
At 1:31 p.m., there was a broadcast that the Complainant had been seen running east from the rear of 732 Mill Street. Containment was set up in the 700 block of Mill Street. All police officers were advised to contain and wait for the K9 unit to attend.
At 1:32 p.m., a K9 unit was on scene. It was noted that the dog search was starting at the south end of an alley behind Mill Street. WO #1 was assisting the K9 unit. The K9 officer had the PSD on a lead.
At 1:35 p.m., it was broadcasted that the Complainant was in custody. EMS were asked to attend as the Complainant had a laceration on the right side of his face.
At 2:05 p.m., there was a broadcast regarding the Complainant being transported to Windsor Regional Hospital – Ouellette, by EMS with a WPS escort, and arriving at 2:12 p.m.
WPS Cell Block Video
On request of SIU investigators, on February 24, 2021 the WPS provided the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage for the cell block of WPS Headquarters in relation to the incident involving the Complainant on February 22, 2021. The video coverage included audio recording. The following is a summary of the WPS CCTV footage.
At 5:51 p.m., a WPS cruiser entered the parking garage of the WPS Headquarters cell block area.
At 5:53 p.m., the Complainant exited the rear of the police cruiser and was escorted into the cell block booking area. The Complainant had a large bandage around his head, covering the forehead area. He was taken by elevator to the cell block level.
At 5:54 p.m., the Complainant approached the booking desk. He was not wearing shoes. The WPS booking sergeant directed the Complainant to be lodged in the “dry cell” while he dealt with another matter. The Complainant was placed in cell DC01. This was a small area equipped with only a bench.
At 6:04 p.m., the Complainant was brought out to the booking desk. He provided basic personal information during the booking procedure - address, description and next of kin. He told the sergeant he had been bit by a PSD, taken to the hospital and received ten stitches to close the bite wound.
At 6:19 p.m., WPS officers conducted a search of the Complainant and he was then placed in a holding cell. The cell was equipped with a bench bed and sink/toilet unit. The Complainant was cooperative throughout the booking procedure and lodging. The Complainant remained in the holding cell awaiting a court appearance in the morning.
Materials Obtained from Police Service Upon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from WPS:
- Narrative-the SO;
- Notes-Officer #1;
- Notes-WO #4;
- Notes-WO #5;
- Notes-Officer #2;
- Notes-WO #1;
- Notes-Officer #3;
- Notes-WO #2;
- Notes-Officer #4;
- Notes-Officer #5;
- Notes-WO #3;
- Notes-the SO;
- Computer-assisted Dispatch;
- Supplementary Reports (x4);
- Arrest, scene and victim injury photographs;
- Initial Officer Report;
- Booking Sheet;
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the other sources:
- Medical Records – the Complainant.
On February 22, 2021, the Complainant was on the run from police apprehension when he was located by a police dog and bit. He was hiding in the walkway between the homes at 732 and 738 Mill Street, Windsor, behind a brick wall of the latter home near its front end. The dog bit into the Complainant’s right pant leg, and pulled him into the walkway and onto the ground. The pant leg tore free of the Complainant, whose face was then bit by the dog. The SO commanded the dog to disengage, which the dog did, and pulled it away from the Complainant. Shortly thereafter, the Complainant was handcuffed by WO #2 with WO #1’s help.
The train of events culminating in the Complainant’s arrest began several minutes earlier when police received a 911 call at about 1:08 p.m. from the manager of an apartment building in the area of Mill Street and Felix Avenue. He was calling to report a domestic disturbance in an apartment involving the Complainant and his ex-girlfriend. Officers were dispatched to investigate.
In violation of a court-ordered condition, the Complainant had attended at his ex-girlfriend’s residence. The two argued and the Complainant assaulted her. When police officers arrived at the apartment, the Complainant’s ex-girlfriend, bleeding from the face, told them the Complainant had fled via the balcony. The Complainant made good his escape from the building having climbed down the building balcony to balcony.
A perimeter was established by responding police officers around the vicinity of the building and a K9 unit was brought in to assist in finding the Complainant – the SO and his police dog. With WO #1 in support, the SO and his dog commenced their track and soon picked up the Complainant’s scent near the rear of the property at 732 Mill Street. The track led them into the backyard of the home and, eventually, a walkway that separated the property from the home to its immediate north at 738 Mill Street. It was there, hiding behind a brick wall, that the Complainant was found and taken into custody.
Following his arrest, the Complainant was taken to hospital and treated for a laceration to the right side of his face, which required ten stitches.
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 were ample grounds to arrest the Complainant for assault based on information they had received from his ex-girlfriend.
The more difficult issue is whether the force used in effecting the arrest, namely, the use of the dog to bite the Complainant, was necessary. I take no issue with the first bite, which, as it turned out, was restricted to the dog biting into the Complainant’s right pant leg, and not his right leg. The Complainant had fled from the scene of a violent crime and was actively evading police when he was located. In the circumstances, the officers were entitled to engage him at distance with the use of the dog before taking physical custody of him.
The second bite is problematic. At that time, the Complainant was already on the ground, having been pulled into that position by the police dog. And yet the dog was permitted to again approach the Complainant, biting him this time in the face.  One might argue that the SO should have intervened to prevent that from happening, particularly as WO #1 was present and available to engage the Complainant.
On the other hand, the SO had cause to believe that they were dealing with a violent individual bent on escape. After all, the Complainant had risked life and limb scaling down the exterior of a building from the fifth floor having just physically assaulted, and caused injury, to his ex-girlfriend. The dog’s training in these circumstances called for the animal to bite and keep hold of a subject, neutralizing their ability to resist or further flee, until such time as police officers assumed physical control. Though he had been knocked off his feet following the first bite, the police dog had lost contact with the Complainant when his pant leg tore off. On this record, one can appreciate why the SO, in the heat of the moment, chose not to prevent the dog from re-establishing a grip on the Complainant until WO #1 could intervene. Once that happened, the SO removed the dog as WO #1 and WO #2 took the Complainant into custody.
In the final analysis, I am unable to reasonably conclude for the foregoing reasons that the force used by the SO fell outside the range of what was reasonably necessary in the circumstances to effect the Complainant’s arrest, notwithstanding the serious injury caused to the Complainant in the process. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.
Date: June 22, 2021
Electronically approved by
- 1) Dogs are trained to avoid biting a subject’s head, albeit it is acknowledged that this will happen on occasion given the volatility inherent in many dog-subject interactions. In this case, there is a suggestion in the evidence that the police dog had attempted to bite the Complainant’s right shoulder / upper arm, but that the dynamics of the situation resulted in the bite being diverted to the face. Be that as it may, as there was no indication in the dog’s training and history that the dog was prone to biting a subject’s head, there were no real issues of potential criminal negligence that rose in this case in relation to the dog’s deployment. [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.