SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-TCD-095


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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 death of a 37-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On March 25, 2021, at 7:45 p.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) notified the SIU of the death of the Complainant.

TPS advised that on March 25, 2021, at around 3:13 p.m., TPS was asked to assist Toronto EMS (Emergency Medical Services) with an aggressive patient [now determined to be the Complainant] in the area of 95 Laird Drive. The Complainant was exhibiting multiple symptoms of COVID-19. EMS had the Complainant on a stretcher, but he was lashing out at the paramedics. The Subject Official (SO) attended and handcuffed the Complainant’s hands in front of him. The SO accompanied the paramedics and the Complainant inside the ambulance to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC).

At SHSC, the Complainant went vital signs absent. Attempts to resuscitate the Complainant were unsuccessful. The Complainant was pronounced dead at 4:10 p.m.

The ambulance had been taken out of service and was being held for SIU.

The Team

Date and time team dispatched: 03/25/2021 at 9:03 p.m.

Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 03/25/2021 at 9:35 p.m.

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

Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):

37-year-old male, deceased

Civilian Witnesses (CW)

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed

The civilian witnesses were interviewed between March 28, 2021 and May 11, 2021.

Subject Official

SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed

The subject official was interviewed on April 23, 2021.

Witness Officials (WO)

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed

The witness officials were interviewed between March 30-31, 2021.


The Scene

The scene was in front of the Pet Valu at 95 Laird Drive in Toronto. The location was referred to as the Leaside Village shopping mall, a conglomeration of various businesses. The shopping mall was in the northeast corner of Laird Drive and Esandar Drive.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

CCTV Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) from Leaside Village Plaza

The CCTV video was captured on March 25, 2021, at Leaside Village shopping mall at 95 Laird Drive. The time stamps were converted to the 24-hour clock. The video captured the following:

Recording #1

At 2:52:09 p.m., the video began.

At 2:53:07 p.m., a man [now known to be the Complainant] crossed the street towards the CIBC and fell to the sidewalk.

At 2:53:51 p.m., the Complainant stood up, walked towards the CIBC, and sat with his back against the building.

At 2:54:53 p.m., the Complainant stood and walked into the plaza away from the CIBC. He was staggering and unsteady on his feet. When the Complainant arrived at a crosswalk, he grabbed the light pole to steady himself and then walked across the street further into the plaza before going out of sight.

At 2:54:59 p.m., the video ended.

Recording #2

At 2:54:59 p.m., the video began.

At 2:55:36 p.m., the Complainant was walking on the sidewalk across from the Booster Juice.

At 2:55:46 p.m., the Complainant fell to the sidewalk and sat on the sidewalk. He was wearing a sweater, pants, ball cap and carrying a jacket.

At 2:59:34 p.m., the Complainant tried to stand but fell back to the sidewalk. There were shoppers walking around the Complainant.

At 3:10:07 p.m., the Complainant was lying on the sidewalk.

At 3:20:25 p.m., a woman driving a black van parked near the Complainant.

At 3:22:15 p.m., the Complainant sat up.

At 3:22:20 p.m., the Complainant was lying on the sidewalk.

At 3:22:03 p.m., a police cruiser drove into the plaza towards the area where the Complainant was lying. The police cruiser drove past the Complainant, made a U-turn, and parked in front of the Booster Juice. At 3:23:01 p.m., the cruiser was parked, and the police officer remained inside.

At 3:23:18 p.m., an ambulance arrived in the area and drove past the cruiser. The Complainant sat up and then laid back down.

At 3:23:55 p.m., a police officer [now determined to be the SO] exited the cruiser. The ambulance parked with its left wheels to the curb near the Complainant. At 3:24:11 p.m., a paramedic exited the passenger side of the ambulance and went to the Complainant. The police officer was present with the paramedic.

At 3:24:50 p.m., the SO went to the Complainant and bent down to pick something up. At 3:25:30 p.m., the SO returned to her cruiser and entered the driver’s side.

At 3:25:58 p.m., a paramedic brought a stretcher from the ambulance to the Complainant. At 3:27:30 p.m., the Complainant was loaded onto the stretcher.

At 3:28:14 p.m., the SO exited her cruiser and returned to the paramedics and the Complainant. At 3:30:53 p.m., the stretcher with the Complainant on board was taken to the ambulance and was loaded inside. At 3:31:02 p.m., the SO gathered property from the sidewalk and returned to her cruiser.

At 3:31:55 p.m., the SO returned to the ambulance, and then walked back to the cruiser and entered. At 3:33:24 p.m., she went back to the ambulance. At 3:34:05 p.m., the SO went back to the cruiser. At 3:34:44 p.m., she exited the cruiser and went back to the ambulance and entered the passenger side of the ambulance.

At 3:35:40 p.m., the ambulance drove off and left the area.

At 3:38:00 p.m., the video ended.

Police Communications Recordings

The recordings were made on March 25, 2021, and captured the following:

On March 25, 2021, at 3:13 p.m., CW #2 called 911 to report a man [now determined to be the Complainant] was sitting in front of the Pet Valu store yelling and talking to himself. She provided a description of the Complainant.

At 3:14:27 p.m., the dispatcher advised the ambulance had been contacted.

At 3:14:43 p.m., the SO was dispatched to 95 Laird Drive.

At 3:14:49 p.m., the SO was en route to the scene.

At 3:22:55 p.m., the SO advised the dispatcher she was on scene.

At 3:24:03 p.m., the dispatcher was advised the ambulance was also on scene.

At 3:36:47 p.m., the SO advised the dispatcher she was on board the ambulance heading to the SHSC.

At 3:38:21 p.m., WO #1 was placed on the call and dispatched. WO #1 headed to the SHSC.

At 4:07:12 p.m., the SO advised the dispatcher the ambulance had arrived at the SHSC.

At 4:22:46 p.m., the SO advised the dispatcher that the Complainant was without vital signs. More police units were sent to 95 Laird Drive to secure the scene.

At 4:26:21 p.m., the dispatcher advised that the sergeant at 53 Division had been made aware of the call.

At 4:34:25 p.m., WO #2 was dispatched to 95 Laird Drive.

Materials Obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from the TPS between March 25, 2021 and June 2, 2021:
• Computer-assisted Dispatch Report;
• Communications Recordings;
• Notes-WO #1;
• Notes-WO #2;
• Notes-the SO;
• Occurrence Report;
• Policy-Arrest;
• Policy-Use of Force; and
• Policy-Medical Emergencies.

Materials Obtained from Other Sources

The SIU received the following records from other sources between March 27, 2021 and April 21, 2021:
• Medical Record- SHSC;
EMS Records-Toronto Paramedic Services;
• Ontario Forensic Pathology Service - Preliminary Autopsy Findings; and
CCTV Recording – 95 Laird Drive.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are clear thanks to interviews with the SO and a paramedic who tended to the Complainant prior to his death, and a video recording that captured much of the incident.

At about 3:13 p.m., the TPS received a 911 call from CW #2. CW #2 was concerned about the condition of a man sitting outside the front entrance of the Pet Valu store at 95 Laird Drive who was yelling and talking to himself. Paramedics and police were dispatched to the scene.

The male was the Complainant. He was captured on a security recording in the area of the shopping complex at the northeast corner of Laird and Esandar Drives as early as 2:53 p.m., at which time he did not appear well. He was unsteady on his feet, fell on a couple of occasions, and eventually lay on the ground on the sidewalk in front of the Pet Valu.

The SO arrived on scene at 3:22 p.m., drove past the Complainant and parked her cruiser in the vicinity. The officer remained in her cruiser waiting for the arrival of the paramedics.

An ambulance arrived on scene at 3:23 p.m. One of the paramedics, CW #4, exited and made his way to the Complainant. He was accompanied by the SO. The Complainant was lying on the ground and writhing. The Complainant was conscious and awake, but nonverbal. In short order, the paramedics decided to rush him to hospital because he was measured with a very high fever of over 40 degrees. As the Complainant was grabbing at CW #4, he asked that the SO handcuff his hands to the front. The officer obliged.

At 3:30 p.m., the Complainant was loaded into the ambulance, which exited the scene en route to hospital at 3:35 p.m. The SO rode in the ambulance with the paramedics.

The Complainant lapsed into respiratory distress in the ambulance. He attempted to remove himself from the stretcher several times. On those occasions, the SO assisted the paramedics in holding him down.

The ambulance arrived at hospital at about 3:50 p.m. The Complainant’s handcuffs were removed, and he was quickly placed in the care of hospital staff. The Complainant lost vital signs and could not be revived. He was pronounced deceased shortly after 4:00 p.m.

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.

Section 215, Criminal Code - Failure to Provide Necessaries

215 (1) Every one is under a legal duty

(c) to provide necessaries of life to a person under his charge if that person
(i) is unable, by reason of detention, age, illness, mental disorder or other cause, to withdraw himself from that charge, and
(ii) is unable to provide himself with necessaries of life.

(2) Every person commits an offence who, being under a legal duty within the meaning of subsection (1), fails without lawful excuse to perform that duty, if
(b) with respect to a duty imposed by paragraph (1)(c), the failure to perform the duty endangers the life of the person to whom the duty is owed or causes or is likely to cause the health of that person to be injured permanently.

Analysis and Director's Decision

On March 25, 2021, the Complainant passed away in hospital in Toronto. Because a TPS officer had interacted with him in the moments prior to his death, the SIU were notified and initiated an investigation. The officer – the SO – was identified as the subject official for purposes of the SIU 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 Complainant’s death.

The offences that arise for consideration are failure to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing death contrary to sections 215 and 220 of the Criminal Code, respectively. The former is predicated, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. The latter is reserved for more serious cases of neglect that demonstrate a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons. It is not made out, inter alia, unless the impugned conduct rises to the level of a marked and substantial departure from a reasonable level of care. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was any want of care on the part of the SO that caused or contributed to the Complainant’s death and/or was sufficiently egregious as to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.

The SO was lawfully placed throughout her engagement with the Complainant. An officer’s foremost obligation is the protection and preservation of life. The SO was in the discharge of that duty when she responded to the scene following reports that the Complainant was in distress.

Once at the scene, I am satisfied that the SO comported herself with due care and regard for the health and well-being of the Complainant. As the 911 call was primarily medical in nature, the SO’s role was largely secondary, namely, to assist attending paramedics to the extent she could as they tended to their patient. There is no suggestion in the evidence that the SO fell short in that role. In the few minutes that the parties were at the scene outside the Pet Valu, the officer was able to retrieve the Complainant’s wallet and ascertain his identity. With that information in hand, she ran his name through police records in an effort to gather information to assist the paramedics. Beyond that, the SO restrained the Complainant in handcuffs at the request of the paramedics, and helped control him on the stretcher in the ambulance. Both actions, in my view, were entirely reasonable as they were geared to ensuring the paramedics could go about their business as efficiently as possible.

In the final analysis, while the cause of the Complainant’ death remains unknown at this time, it is clear that the SO did not transgress the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law in her limited dealings with him over a short period of time. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.

Date: July 23, 2021

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
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.