SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-TCD-103


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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 57-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On April 5, 2021, at 3:41 a.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) notified the SIU of the following.

On April 5, 2021, at 12:56 a.m., police officers of 51 Division executed a search warrant at a residence on Sherbourne Street. There were a woman and a man at the apartment. As soon as the police officers walked into the apartment, the man - the Complainant - ingested an unknown substance.

The Complainant was immediately transported to the hospital and, shortly thereafter, died from a possible drug overdose. The woman, Civilian Witness (CW) #3, was transported to 51 Division.

The Team

Date and time team dispatched: 04/05/2021 at 4:26 a.m.

Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 04/05/2021 at 6:23 a.m.

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 5
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2

Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):

57-year-old male, deceased

Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)
CW #2 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)
CW #3 Interviewed

The civilian witness was interviewed on April 5, 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 Interviewed

The witness officials were interviewed on April 7, 2021.


The Scene

The Complainant is believed to have ingested an unknown substance while inside an apartment unit in a residence building on Sherbourne Street, Toronto.

The Complainant passed away while under the care of medical professionals at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

TPS Radio Communications Summary

April 4, 2021 – 11:20 p.m.
• Internal communications regarding the notification of the upcoming execution of a search warrant.
April 5, 2021 – 12:55 a.m.
WO #2 broadcast a request via police radio for an ambulance “just to check out a male who may have ingested some drugs”. WO #2 said the Complainant was a male, 57-years-old, who was conscious and breathing.
• A communications operator called Toronto Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Communications.
• Further communication involved the transport of the Complainant to St. Michael’s Hospital and CW #3 to 51 Division, and securing the scene.

Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) from a Residence Building on Sherbourne Street

The video was time and date stamped, and commenced at 12:20 a.m. on April 5, 2021.

12:30 a.m.
• Police officers of the TPS Public Safety Response Team (PSRT) walked up the stairwell to the floor containing the target apartment unit and reached the floor in the following order. WO #4, WO #1, WO #3, the SO and WO #2.
• Once all the officers were at the door to the hallway, the SO nodded.
• The police officers entered the hallway, and walked to what appeared to be almost the end of the hallway to the target apartment, in the same order they had come up the stairs.
• The hallway was very narrow.
12:31 a.m.
• The police officers were at the door to the target apartment.
WO #4 swung the ram twice at the door.
• All of the police officers entered the unit.
12:33 a.m.
WO #1 exited the unit with the Complainant and appeared to commence a search of the Complainant, who was facing the wall next to the apartment entrance door.
• The Complainant appeared to be handcuffed behind his back. He appeared calm and cooperative.

12:59 a.m.
• The Complainant sat down in a chair.
1:09 a.m.
• Two paramedics arrived with a stretcher.
1:17 a.m.
• The Complainant was on the stretcher and taken to the elevator by the paramedics with WO #1.
1:30 a.m.
• The police officers left.

Forensic Photograph Captured by TPS

The photograph detailed the Complainant faced near a wall. It was evident in the photograph that on the right side of the Complainant’s mouth, he had a white substance around its outline.

Materials Obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from the TPS between April 5 and 29, 2021:
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act Warrant;
• Forensic Photos and Video;
• Communications Recordings;
• Scene Photos;
• General Occurrence - Entity List;
• General Occurrence Report;
• Intergraph Computer-assisted Dispatch;
• PSRT Notes (Search Warrant)-WO #4;
• Notes-WO #2;
• Notes-WO #3;
• Notes-WO #4;
• Notes-WO #1;
• Known File Fingerprint Impressions;
• Seized Property Reports; and
• Seized Property Receipts.

Materials Obtained from Other Sources

The SIU received the following records from other sources between April 6 and 27, 2021:
EMS Records - Toronto EMS;
• Preliminary Autopsy Findings; and
CCTV from a residence on Sherbourne Street.

Incident Narrative

The following scenario emerges from the weight of the evidence collected by the SIU, which included an interview with a civilian witness to the events in question and several officers who participated in the search warrant execution resulting in the Complainant’s arrest. As was his legal right, the SO chose not to interview with the SIU or authorize the release of his notes.

At 11:10 p.m. of April 4, 2021, members of 51 Division’s Public Safety Response Team attended a briefing to discuss a search warrant that had been secured for an apartment at a residence building on Sherbourne Street. The warrant authorized the seizure of drugs and drug paraphernalia believed to be on the premises. Though the Complainant was not the tenant of the apartment, he was believed to be present and trafficking in drugs in the unit in violation of a condition of his judicial release. The briefing ended at 11:20 p.m.

The team, consisting of WO #1, WO #2, WO #3 and WO #4, and led by the SO, arrived outside the door to the unit at about 12:30 a.m. of April 5, 2021. WO #4 shouted out their presence before he breached the front door with two strikes of a battering ram. There were a half-dozen or so persons inside the apartment at the time, including the Complainant, who was seated at a table with others. He was arrested by WO #3 without incident, as were the other occupants.

The Complainant was placed in the physical custody of WO #1 and escorted outside the apartment into the hallway. After a period of time, at the SO’s direction, the Complainant was returned inside the apartment and into a bathroom where WO #1 and the SO conducted a thorough search of his person. When the search was over, the Complainant was again escorted into the hallway just outside the front door of the unit.

Once in the hallway for the second time, the Complainant’s demeanour changed. He seemed more lethargic and was leaning against the hallway wall. WO #1, and then WO #2, asked if he was okay and he assured them that he was fine. The officers asked him if he had ingested any drugs, and he replied on multiple occasions that he had not. Growing increasingly concerned with the Complainant’s well-being, WO #2 reported his suspicion that the Complainant had swallowed drugs to the SO, despite his denials. The SO directed WO #2 to call for an ambulance. The time was about 12:56 a.m.

By the time of the paramedics’ arrival, at about 1:09 a.m., another person under arrest from within the apartment informed WO #2 that the Complainant had in fact consumed a quantity of crack cocaine prior to the officers’ entry. That information was confirmed by yet another person in custody. WO #2 advised the paramedics what he had been told.

The Complainant was loaded onto a stretcher, placed in the ambulance and taken to hospital, arriving at about 1:40 a.m. He was subsequently pronounced deceased at 2:44 a.m.

Cause of Death

The pathologist at autopsy was unable to provide a preliminary cause of death and the final report of post-mortem examination remains outstanding at this time. It was noted, however, that a urine test at autopsy concluded that the Complainant had cocaine in his system.

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

The Complainant passed away of an apparent drug overdose in the early morning hours of April 5, 2021. He was in the custody of the TPS following the execution of a search warrant by a team of officers. The officer in charge of the operation – 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 premised, 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 serious cases of neglect that demonstrate a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons. It is not made out unless, inter alia, the impugned conduct constitutes a marked and substantial departure from a reasonable level of care. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was a want of care in the manner in which the SO dealt with the Complainant that caused or contributed to his death and/or was sufficiently egregious as to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.

The officers’ entry into the apartment and the Complainant’s subsequent arrest were lawful. There was a warrant in effect authorizing the search of the unit for drugs and drug paraphernalia. That same warrant named the Complainant in connection with the predicate offence of drug trafficking.

Thereafter, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the involved officers, including the SO, failed to comport themselves with due care and regard for the Complainant’s health and safety. As soon as the Complainant began to appear unwell, he was repeatedly asked if he was okay or had ingested drugs. As his condition continued to deteriorate, the SO made the decision to call for an ambulance despite the Complainant’s assurances that he was fine and had not consumed illicit substances. The paramedics arrived within minutes of the call, at about 1:09 a.m., and took over the Complainant’s care. Quickly thereafter, they were advised by WO #2 that the Complainant had likely consumed a quantity of crack cocaine before the officers’ entry into the apartment, which information had been conveyed to the officer by others who had been in the apartment with the Complainant at the time. The Complainant was taken to hospital by the paramedics, where he was eventually pronounced deceased, apparently of a drug overdose. On this record, though the officers were unable to prevent the Complainant’s medical distress and death, it was not for want of reasonable efforts on their part.

In the result, as I am satisfied that the officers who dealt with the Complainant in the time leading to his death did not transgress the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case. The file is closed.

Date: July 28, 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.