SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OCI-129
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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 a serious injury sustained by a 35-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn April 21, 2021, at 9:08 p.m., the Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant.
The DRPS advised that on April 21, 2021, at 6:00 p.m., DRPS police officers responded to a call from someone reporting that the Complainant was threatening to enter a nearby woods and hang himself.
Subject Official (SO) #1 and SO #2 responded. When they arrived, they found the Complainant in the kitchen with his father. When they attempted to apprehend the Complainant under the Mental Health Act (MHA), he tried to escape and was grounded.
The Complainant was taken to the Ross Memorial Hospital (RMH) in Lindsay and formed under the MHA. While at hospital, he complained of a sore shoulder, and was X-rayed and diagnosed with a fractured clavicle.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 04/22/2021 at 7:00 a.m.
Date and time SIU responded: 04/22/2021 at 8:39 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):35-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
The Complainant was interviewed on April 29, 2021.
Civilian WitnessesCW Interviewed
The civilian witness was interviewed on April 22, 2021.
Subject OfficialsSO #1 Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject official’s legal right.
SO #2 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
SO #1 was interviewed on May 6, 2021.
Witness OfficialsWO Interviewed
The witness official was interviewed on April 26, 2021.
The Scene The scene was a one-and-a-half story detached single-family home in Cannington. The home was neighboured by one other home on each side. The area was, otherwise, semi-rural.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence The SIU searched for and obtained audio records of relevance, as set out below:
Police Communication RecordingsRequested on May 10, 2021, and received on May 13, 2021.
The recording was not time stamped nor did it contain a start time. SO #1 and SO #2 were dispatched to the scene for the Complainant, who was fighting with his parents and threatening to harm himself.
The time references cited are the play back times of the audio file.
At ten seconds into the recording, the dispatcher related the address of the scene and indicated, “The Complainant [..] won’t leave, screaming and yelling. [..] Not sure if he has been drinking or on drugs, he is a known drug user. Not sure how he will respond with officers [..] no weapons, he has MHA issues, states he is going to hang himself. He is currently in the kitchen.”
SO #1 responded that he and SO #2 were on their way, and were told the Complainant had threatened to end his life in the past but had never attempted it. They were also told there were guns locked in the basement of the house, but the Complainant would not “go for them”.
At 58 seconds of the recording, the dispatcher broadcast the Complainant was still in the house and had threatened to go into the woods and hang himself.
At one minute, 32 seconds of the recording, SO #1 broadcast, “We got one apprehended here for the mental health.” Five seconds later, the WO acknowledged he heard SO #1’s transmission.
At one minute, 45 seconds, SO #1 broadcast, “Myself and SO #2 will be transporting the male to Ross Memorial, she’ll be following. Give you my mileage here when you’re ready.”
The start and end mileage for the trip to the hospital were broadcast and, at two minutes, 27 seconds, SO #1 broadcast, “We will not have reception in the hospital. We’ll have our cell phones.”
The communication recording ended with the dispatcher copying that transmission, at two minutes and 34 seconds of the recording, and citing the time as 1859 hrs.
Materials Obtained from Police Service The SIU obtained the following records from the DRPS between April 22, 2021 and May 13, 2021:
• Computer-assisted Dispatch call report;The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from RMH:
• DRPS Directive - Use of Force;
• DRPS Directive - Arrest;
• DRPS Directive - Persons in Crisis;
• General Occurrence;
• Notes - the WO;
• Mobile Data Terminal Logs for the SOs; and
• SIU disclosure memo.
Materials Obtained from Other Sources
• Medical records – the Complainant
In the evening of April 21, 2021, the DRPS received a 911 call from the Complainant’s mother calling to report a domestic disturbance involving her son. She reported that the Complainant was intoxicated by drugs or alcohol and had been asked to leave the home, but would not. She further reported that he was suicidal and had threatened to end his life by hanging. Officers were dispatched to the address in Cannington.
SO #1 and SO #2 arrived at the home at about 6:30 p.m. They met and spoke with the CW outside the residence, who indicated that his son had said he would go into the nearby woods to hang himself.
The Complainant eventually exited the home and was advised that he was to leave the home in the custody of the police. He objected to his apprehension, refused to leave the property and focused his attention on his father, blaming him for having contacted the police.
In short order, SO #1 took hold of the Complainant’s left arm as SO #2 positioned herself to his right. The Complainant wrestled against the officers’ efforts to secure him in handcuffs and was placed up against a vehicle. He continued to struggle and was grounded by SO #1. Once on the ground, the officers were successful in handcuffing the Complainant.
Following his arrest, the Complainant was taken to hospital for a mental health assessment. At about 8:30 p.m., while in hospital, he was diagnosed with a fractured right clavicle.
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,
Section 17, Mental Health Act -- Action by police officer
(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,
(d) serious bodily harm to the person;(e) serious bodily harm to another person; or(f) serious physical impairment of the person,
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 they had learned of the Complainant’s state of mind and suicidal ideation via the 911 call, and their conversation with the Complainant’s father, I am satisfied that SO #1 and SO #2 were within their rights in seeking to apprehend the Complainant under section 17 of the Mental Health Act.
I am further satisfied that the officers used no more than reasonably necessary force to apprehend the Complainant. The Complainant physically resisted arrest by struggling against the officers’ efforts to take him into custody, and the officers responded in kind by attempting to wrestle him under control. As the officers were finding little success in subduing the Complainant on his feet, SO #1 decided, reasonably in my view, to ground him by pulling him to the ground. In that position, the officers could expect to better manage any continuing resistance from the Complainant. Shortly after the takedown, the Complainant was handcuffed and under control. No strikes of any kind were delivered at any point by the officers.
In the result, while I accept that the Complainant’s injury occurred when he was taken to the ground, I am unable on the aforementioned-record to reasonably conclude that either SO #1 or SO #2 used unlawful force in their dealings with the Complainant. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.
Date: August 19, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) The following records contain sensitive personal information and are not being released pursuant to section 34(2) of the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019. The material portions of the records are summarized below. [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.