SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OCI-131


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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 serious injuries sustained by a 35-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On April 23, 2021, at 4:48 p.m., the Belleville Police Service (BPS) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant.

The BPS advised that on April 23, 2021, at 12:30 p.m., the Complainant was arrested on outstanding warrants by the Repeat Offender Parole Enforcement (ROPE) team. The Complainant was taken the BPS where he was lodged after undergoing a level three search due to his drug history. The Complainant was placed in a dry cell to ensure nothing was lost. At about 2:30 p.m., the Complainant complained he was not feeling well and told a special constable on duty that he had ingested a quantity of crystal meth (methamphetamine) when he saw the police approach.

Paramedics responded to the police station and the Complainant was taken to Belleville General Hospital (BGH). He was admitted to the intensive care unit in life threatening condition.

The Team

Date and time team dispatched: 04/23/2021 at 6:15 p.m.

Date and time SIU responded: 04/23/2021 at 6:30 p.m.

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

Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):

35-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed

The Complainant was interviewed on June 21, 2021.

Subject Officials

SO #1 Declined interview and to provide 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

Witness Officials

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed

The witness officials were interviewed on April 28, 2021, and May 10, 2021.

Service Employee Witnesses

SEW #1 Interviewed
SEW #2 Interviewed

The service employee witnesses were interviewed on April 28, 2021.


The Scene

On April 23, 2021, at about 2:30 p.m., the Complainant was in custody in a cell at the BPS station and went into medical distress. The police station was located at 459 Sidney Street in Belleville.

On April 23, 2021 at 7:28 p.m., an SIU forensic investigator attended BPS and was escorted to cell number 7, which was sealed with a police seal on April 23, 2021, at 5:08 p.m. the forensic investigator photographed, measured and video recorded the cell interior and hallway outside and, at 8:30 p.m., cleared the building.

On April 24, 2021, at 9:45 a.m., the forensic investigator received information that the wrong cell was examined the day prior. The forensic investigator re-attended BPS at 2:00 p.m. and was escorted to the correct cell, which was sealed with a police seal on April 24, 2021, at 9:34 a.m. The forensic investigator photographed, measured and video recorded the cell interior. It was confirmed that the two cells had the same layout and measurements.

There was clothing (white shirt and black/grey shirt) and a medical waste wrapper on the bed, an uneaten sandwich from Tim Hortons, and an opened bottle of water on the sink console. There was a second medical waste wrapper and other items in the hall outside the cell door. The forensic investigator photographed and video recorded from the sally port area to the booking area and hallways all the way to the cell. The forensic investigator photographed the cell monitors in the report writing room, communications room, front desk area, and the sergeant’s office.

The forensic investigator was also taken to the search room (no video monitoring equipment in place) opposite the printing room where the Complainant was searched.

At 2:50 p.m., the forensic investigator had completed the scene examination.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence1

Communications Recordings

The recordings were made on April 23, 2021, and captured the following:

• At 12:08:32 p.m., the dispatcher queried the Complainant;
• At 12:08:32 p.m., the dispatcher asked for a BPS police unit to attend at the Complainant’s home to transport the Complainant to the police station;
• At 12:25:19 p.m., WO #1 advised the dispatcher that SO #1 was en route to the police station with the Complainant;
• At 12:29:37 p.m., SO #1 advised the dispatcher they were at the police station with the Complainant;
• At 1:13:09 p.m., SO #1 advised the dispatcher they were writing their report and that the Complainant was arrested by ROPE;
• At 2:38:29 p.m., the dispatcher was asked to request that an ambulance attend BPS as it was believed the Complainant was having an overdose;
• At 2:38:33 p.m., EMS was contacted;
• At 2:39:24 p.m., WO #1 advised the dispatcher that the Complainant was in acute medical distress after advising he had swallowed drugs prior to his interaction with police that day;
• At 2:39:46 p.m., WO #1 was standing by with Narcan and an AED (automated external defibrillator) until ambulance arrived;
• At 2:54:41 p.m., WO #1 advised the dispatcher the ambulance had left heading for the hospital and WO #1 was following the ambulance; and
• At 4:19:12 p.m., the Complainant was admitted to hospital.

Sally Port, Booking Hall and Cell Video

These videos were captured on April 23, 2021, at the BPS station. The video had a time stamp and captured the following:

Sally Port - Camera 1

• The video began at 12:28:57 p.m. on April 23, 2021;
• At 12:29:26 p.m., the sally port door opened, and a police cruiser drove into the sally port;
• At 12:30:50 p.m., the door to the sally port closed; and
• At 12:31:57 p.m. the video ended.

Sally Port - Camera 2

• At 12:28:58 p.m. the video began, and depicted the door leading to the booking hall of the police station from the sally port;
• At 12:31:11 p.m., WO #1 walked to the door and exited the sally port;
• At 12:31:15 p.m., the Complainant, wearing a white sweat suit and with his hands handcuffed behind him, was escorted to the door leading to the booking hall. The Complainant disappeared from view after exiting the sally port and entering the booking hall; and
• At 12:31:54 p.m., the video ended.

Booking Hall - Camera 1

• At 12:30:56 p.m., the video started in the booking hall and depicted SEW #1 standing under the camera; and
• At 12:47:58 p.m., the video ended.

Booking Hall - Camera 2

• At 12:30:57 p.m., the video started;
• At 12:31:33 p.m., the Complainant walked from the sally port into the booking hall;
• At 12:35:46 p.m., the Complainant sat down on a bench and only his feet were visible; and
• At 12:47:48 p.m., the video ended.

Cell Video

• At 12:45:59 p.m., the video started;
• At 12:48:25 p.m., a police officer checked to ensure the water was turned off to the sink;
• At 12:49:17 p.m., the Complainant entered the cell and paced or stood near the cell door;
• At 12:49:49 p.m., the Complainant sat on the bunk;
• At 1:02:15 p.m., the Complainant tried the sink;
• At 1:18:32 p.m., the Complainant exited the cell wearing a T-shirt, white sweatpants and white socks;
• At 1:22:04 p.m., the Complainant returned to the cell and laid down on the bunk;
• At 2:27:05 p.m., the Complainant stood at the cell door and was given a water bottle and a burger wrapped in fast food paper. He placed the wrapped burger in the sink;
• At 2:38:19 p.m., WO #1 and a paramedic entered the cell. The paramedic asked the Complainant what he took. The Complainant replied he had swallowed methamphetamines. The paramedic asked the Complainant if he had vomited and the Complainant replied he had not. The Complainant stated to the paramedic he had taken one gram of methamphetamine three hours prior;
• At 2:40:09 p.m., a stretcher was brought into the cell;
• At 2:41:02 p.m., the Complainant climbed onto the stretcher and was taken out of the cell; and
• At 2:42:04 p.m., the video ended.

Materials Obtained from Police Service

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from police:
• Communications Recordings;
• Sally Port, Booking and Cell Video;
• Advanced Detailed Trips Report;
• Policy - Use of Force;
• Policy - Arrest Procedure;
• Policy - Prisoner Care and Control;
• Custody Arrest Report;
• Event Details;
• Screenshot of Vehicle Route; and
• Notes of the SEWs and WOs.

Materials Obtained from Other Sources

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the following other sources:
• Medical Records for the Complainant from BGH.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included statements from witness officers who had a hand in the Complainant’s custody and video recordings that captured the incident in parts. As was their legal right, the subject officials chose not to interview with the SIU or authorize the release of their notes.

In the late morning of April 23, 2021, a ROPE team consisting of officers from the BPS, the Kingston Police and the Ontario Provincial Police attended at the Complainant’s home in Belleville. They were there to arrest the Complainant on outstanding warrants for being in violation of the conditions of his statutory release. The Complainant was arrested and handcuffed without incident. Items were removed from his person during a search at the scene, including suspected drugs and drug paraphernalia.

The Complainant was taken to the police station, arriving at about 12:30 p.m. A package containing fentanyl was seized from the Complainant as he was being booked. He denied having any other drugs on him. A strip search conducted by SEW #1 did not reveal the presence of contraband. The Complainant was lodged in a cell at about 12:50 p.m.

At about 2:30 p.m., while SEW #1 and SEW #2 were providing lunches to the prisoners, they noticed the Complainant sweating profusely and shaking. When asked, the Complainant denied having consumed any illicit substances. The special constables left the cells and reported what they had seen to WO #1.

WO #1 went to the cells to check on the Complainant and then arranged to have paramedics contacted and sent to the station. As he and the special constables waited for the paramedics to arrive, they readied themselves with a defibrillator and a naloxone kit in the event they were needed. The Complainant continued to deny that he had consumed any drugs, but then admitted to WO #1 that he had ingested a gram of crystal methamphetamine before his arrest by police that day.

The paramedics arrived at the police station at about 2:48 p.m. and took over the Complainant’s care. The Complainant placed himself on the stretcher, after which he was loaded into the ambulance and transported to hospital. He had suffered a drug overdose.

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 221, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm

221 Every one who by criminal negligence causes bodily harm to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years

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 April 23, 2021, the Complainant fell into medical distress while lodged in the cells of the BPS station. He was taken to hospital and treated for a drug overdose. The SIU was notified of the incident and initiated an investigation. Two of the officers involved in the Complainant’s custody on that day – SO #1 and SO #2 – were identified as subject officials. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either subject official committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s condition.

The offences that arise for consideration are failure to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing bodily harm contrary to sections 215 and 221 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 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 behaviour 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 on the part of either or both of the subject officials that caused or contributed to the Complainant’s drug overdose and/or was sufficiently egregious as to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.

There are no questions raised in the evidence with respect to the lawfulness of the Complainant’s arrest. By all accounts, he was lawfully taken into custody for having breached a term of his release.

I am also satisfied that neither SO #2 nor SO #1 failed in their duty of care toward the Complainant. The former was officer in charge of the station with overall responsibility for the care of prisoners at the time of the events in question. The latter took custody of the Complainant at the arrest scene and transported him to the station. There is no evidence to suggest that the Complainant consumed the drugs that resulted in his overdose while in police custody. Indeed, he conceded to having consumed the drugs about three hours prior to his arrest. That said, the officers who dealt with the Complainant searched him on two occasions and removed drugs from his possession. They asked him on several occasions if he had taken any drugs and he denied it. At the first sign of trouble, when special constables noticed the Complainant sweating heavily and shaking, medical care was promptly secured. On this record, it would be unreasonable to conclude that the officers who dealt with the Complainant, including the subject officials, did not comport themselves with due care and regard for his health and wellbeing.

In the result, as there are no grounds to believe that either of the subject officials transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law in relation to the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.

Date: August 20, 2021

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
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.