SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-PCI-075
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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 injuries a 60-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered during an interaction with the police.
Notification of the SIUOn March 10, 2021, at 6:30 p.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant.
The OPP advised that on February 28, 2021, at around 7:00 p.m., OPP police officers responded to a domestic disturbance call in Huron Shores. Upon police arrival, the Complainant was in the basement of the residence with a knife. Police officers were able to disarm the Complainant and, after a struggle, took him into custody. The Complainant subsequently complained of pain to his elbow.
The Complainant was transported to the Blind River Hospital where he was diagnosed with a dislocated elbow. The Complainant was treated and transferred to the Sault Area Hospital where his elbow was put back into place. The Complainant was subsequently released from hospital back into the custody of the police.
Apparently, OPP police officers felt the injury was not serious at the time and did not report the incident to the SIU.
The OPP had since discovered that the Complainant appears to have also suffered several rib fractures as a result of his arrest; thus, the notification to the SIU on this date.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 03/11/2021 at 12:16 p.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 03/11/2021 at 3:00 p.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 0
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):60-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
The Complainant was interviewed on March 11, 2021.
Civilian Witness (CW)CW Interviewed
The civilian witness was interviewed on March 15, 2021.
Subject Official (SO)SO Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject official’s legal right.
The subject official was interviewed on May 28, 2021.
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed between March 16 and 25, 2021.
The Scene The scene was in the basement of the CW’s residence located in Huron Shores. The residence was described as a single-family home.
The OPP provided copies of four photographs taken of the arrest scene at the CW’s residence. The photographs were taken by WO #2 shortly after the arrest of the Complainant. The photos showed the basement area of the CW’s residence. Depicted in the photographs was a wood stove. There was a short stool in front of the stove. There was a photo of a baseball hat and a belt with something attached to it consistent with a homemade sheath. There was a knife with a black handle and a short leather strap about two metres away from the area where the interaction occurred. The knife appeared to be a in a position relative to the area where the interaction with the Complainant occurred. No other knife appeared to be depicted in the photographs.
OPP Communication RecordingsThe OPP provided a copy of the communication recordings to the SIU on May 21, 2021. The recordings were made on February 28, 2021 and captured the following:
At 7:10 p.m., the CW called 911 and reported the Complainant had slashed her tire. The CW provided some background information regarding her and the Complainant, and the present situation. The CW said the Complainant had been drinking. She could be heard repeatedly asking the Complainant to leave and the Complainant repeatedly refused. For almost the entire time, the Complainant could be heard clearly in the background yelling that he was not going to leave the house. The CW said the Complainant had gone to the basement of the residence. The call-taker provided the CW with updates of the location of the responding police officers and encouraged the CW to exit the residence along with her daughter.
At about the 16 minute mark of the phone call (7:26 p.m.), the CW said the police had arrived. The call-taker concluded the telephone call. The end of the 911 call was time stamped 7:27 p.m.
At 7:15 p.m., the dispatcher radioed a police officer at the OPP Thessalon Detachment and dispatched police officers to the call, though it was not clear from the recording which police officer she was talking to or which police officer(s) she dispatched. The dispatcher provided information regarding the call, including that the Complainant had been drinking.
At 03:35 (running time on audio track, not real time), WO #2 booked on scene.
At 03:39 (running time), a man’s voice said they had a man [now determined to be the Complainant] in custody. The Complainant could be heard yelling in the background. The police officer said they were heading to the OPP Blind River Detachment because of the power outage in Thessalon.
At 04:25 (running time), the SO asked WO #2 to seize the two knives from the basement.
Materials Obtained from Police Service Upon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from the OPP between March 12, 2021 and June 17, 2021:
• Booking and Cell Video;
• Communication Recordings;
• Cellphone Photos taken by WO #2;
• Notes-WO #2;
• Notes-WO #1;
• Notes-WO #4;
• Notes-WO #3;
• Prisoner Log - Blind River;
• Computer-assisted Dispatch Report;
• Release Documents;
• Witness Statement-the CW;
• Occurrence Report;
• Willsay-WO #2;
• Willsay-WO #1;
• Willsay-WO #4;
• Policy – Use of Force; and
• Policy – Arrest Detention.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from other sources between March 18, 2021 and April 20, 2021:
• Medical Records-North Shore Health Network; and
• Medical Records-Sault Area Hospital.
In the evening of February 28, 2021, the OPP received a 911 call from the CW. The CW was calling to report a domestic disturbance involving her estranged spouse, the Complainant. Specifically, the CW noted that an intoxicated Complainant had shown up uninvited at her address, slashed the tires of her vehicle, and entered the home against her wishes, refusing to leave. Police officers were dispatched to the address.
The SO and his partner, WO #1, arrived in a single cruiser, followed by WO #2 in a separate vehicle. They briefly spoke with the CW, who with her daughter had fled the residence at the direction of the 911 call-taker, and then made their way inside the home.
The Complainant was located in the basement sitting on a small stool beside a wood oven with his legs extended out. Beside his right leg and within reach was a knife. The SO warned the Complainant not to go for the knife and then moved in to take hold of his right arm from behind as WO #2 took hold of the Complainant’s left arm.
The Complainant was lifted to his feet and then brought down to the floor by the officers, including WO #1, who pulled the Complainant’s legs out from under him. The SO was able to bring the Complainant’s right arm behind his back, but WO #2, having lost control of the left arm on the way down, was having difficulty securing the limb. The Complainant kept his arm under his torso for a period and released it after the SO delivered three knee strikes to his right side, following which the handcuffing process was completed.
The Complainant was taken to the Blind River OPP Detachment. While there, the Complainant complained of pain and was taken to hospital, first, the Blind River Hospital and, then, the Sault Area Hospital, where he was diagnosed and treated for a right elbow dislocation. On March 2, 2021, following his release from custody, the Complainant attended at a clinic and was diagnosed with several right-sided rib fractures.
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. Given what the officers had been told via dispatch about the Complainant having slashed the CW’s tires, and what they were able to gather upon inspecting the vehicle and speaking with the CW, the officers were acting within their rights in moving to arrest the Complainant for mischief.
Thereafter, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the officers and, specifically, the SO, used more force than was reasonably necessary in taking the Complainant into custody. The Complainant was inebriated and in a hostile mood. He had just vandalized the CW’s property with the use of a knife, and was immediately belligerent when confronted by the officers in the basement, telling them to “fuck off”. In the circumstances, the officers were entitled to take him to the ground at the first opportunity given the presence of the knife on the floor by the Complainant’s leg and, as they would later discover, another knife on his waistband. In that position, the officers could better manage any risks associated with resistance on the part of the Complainant. The Complainant did struggle against the officers’ efforts on the floor to secure both his arms behind his back and was met with three knee strikes to the right side of his torso by the SO. Once again, given the presence of knives in the vicinity, the officer was justified in seeking to cut short the Complainant’s resistance as quickly as possible so that he could be secured in restraints. Indeed, following the third blow, the officers were able to wrest control of the Complainant’s left arm and place it handcuffs. No further strikes of any kind were delivered.
In the result, while I accept that the Complainant’s injuries were incurred in the course of the physical altercation that marked his arrest, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO conducted himself other than lawfully throughout their encounter. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.
Date: July 7, 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.