SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OCD-256
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Mandate of the SIU
Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation. If, after an investigation, there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence was committed, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the officer. Alternatively, in all cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director does not lay criminal charges but files a report with the Attorney General communicating the results of an investigation.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”)Pursuant to section 14 of FIPPA (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 whose release could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter or an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding.
- Subject Officer name(s);
- Witness Officer name(s);
- Civilian Witness name(s);
- 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.
Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)
Other proceedings, processes, and investigationsInformation may have also 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.
“Serious injuries” shall include those that are likely to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim and are more than merely transient or trifling in nature and will include serious injury resulting from sexual assault. “Serious Injury” shall initially be presumed when the victim is admitted to hospital, suffers a fracture to a limb, rib or vertebrae or to the skull, suffers burns to a major portion of the body or loses any portion of the body or suffers loss of vision or hearing, or alleges sexual assault. Where a prolonged delay is likely before the seriousness of the injury can be assessed, the Unit should be notified so that it can monitor the situation and decide on the extent of its involvement.
This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into the death of a 23-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn October 7, 2020, at 9:34 a.m., the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) notified the SIU of the Complainant’s death. According to the OPS, on October 7, 2020, at approximately 9:00 a.m., OPS police officers went to execute a warrant to search at 2020 Jasmine Crescent, Ottawa. While doing so, the Complainant jumped off the balcony. The Complainant was pronounced dead at the scene.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU forensic investigators assigned: 1
SIU investigators interviewed civilian and police witnesses, canvassed for additional witnesses, and searched for and obtained closed-circuit television (CCTV) data from inside and outside the involved address. Interviews of the subject and witness officers were protracted due to the coronavirus 19 (COVID-19) pandemic and ensuing employment protocols during this investigation.
One SIU forensic investigator made digital photographic records of the scenes inside and outside the apartment, collected physical exhibits, and made a digital photographic record of the post-mortem examination of the Complainant conducted on October 8, 2021.
SIU investigators obtained and reviewed data obtained on request from the manufacturer of the GPS device attached to the Complainant’s ankle.
Complainant:23-year-old male, deceased
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed
CW #6 Interviewed
CW #7 Interviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
WO #7 Interviewed
WO #8 Interviewed
WO #9 Interviewed
Subject OfficersSO #1 Declined interview, as is the subject officer’s legal right. Notes received and reviewed.
SO #2 Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
SO #3 Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
The exterior scene was found in daylight, overcast, and warm and damp atmospheric conditions as it had just rained heavily prior to the SIU arriving at the scene.
Two OPS police officers were at the rear, east-aspect of the 14-storey apartment building where a protective tent was erected over a blanket that covered the deceased body of the Complainant. The Local Investigating Coroner was also in attendance and had already examined the body, tagged it for identification, and prepared documents for the body to be removed to the EORFPU (Eastern Ontario Regional Forensic Pathology Unit).
The Complainant’s body was clad in a blue T-shirt and black shorts. He was on a medical backboard with a chest compression machine in place, covered in a white sheet and yellow blanket. His left leg and ankle were deformed and appeared to be broken. There was a ‘tracking’ ankle bracelet (now known to be the Recovery Science Corporation (RSC)’s GPS monitoring device) near the body and there was an indentation in the grassy ground with a puncture hole near it.
Figure 2 - The RSC GPS monitoring device.
It was pointed out by the two OPS police officers that there was a large baggie with what appeared to be pills in it, lodged in a branch of a large spruce tree and was almost directly above the indentation in the ground. The baggie was 7.1 metres from the ground, and 5.1 metres out from the apartment building wall. The indentation was 4.9 metres out from the apartment building wall in-line with a window directly above at the 12th floor that had a torn screen.
Figure 3 - The bag located in a spruce tree.
The distance from the 12th floor bedroom windowsill to the ground was about 41 metres, or about 134.5 feet.
At 2:26 p.m., employees of a local body removal service removed the Complainant’s body to the EORFPU after the SIU forensic investigator sealed the body bag.
Members of the Ottawa Fire Department and an OPS police officer retrieved the baggie in the tree.
Secondary SceneThe involved apartment unit metal entrance door had a large dent on the exterior, hall side, and there was a distraction device on the hall floor just outside the entrance door.
Figure 4 - The distraction device.
The entranceway led to a hall leading to a living room straight ahead, a kitchen to the left and another hall to the right. The hall to the right led to a bathroom on the right, a bedroom straight ahead, and another hall to the left where a bedroom was on the right and straight ahead (now known to be the Complainant’s bedroom).
The bedroom’s open, horizontal sliding window was 1.46 metres above the floor and at the same level as the mattress of a bunk bed against it. The window opening was .39 metres wide by .91 metres high, and the screen was mostly torn open.
The distance travelled from the entrance door through the three hallways to the open window in the last bedroom was 14.50 metres.
Areas of the apartment unit, including the subject bedroom and window area, were photographed and measured.
The SIU forensic investigator collected the distraction device as an exhibit.
CCTV Data – 2020 Jasmine CrescentThe time stamp from the apartment building’s exterior CCTV video camera indicated that the Complainant landed on the ground on October 7, 2020, at 8:57:07 a.m. The GPS ankle monitoring bracelet was seen to burst from the Complainant’s left ankle on impact. As the Complainant’s body bounced, so did the GPS device albeit from his ankle to the edge of the grass at the paved walkway immediately south of the apartment building. OPS police officers were depicted rushing to aid the Complainant who was motionless after bouncing once. He remained prone with his head pointing in a southwest direction. There was no audio component with the video data.
CCTV Data – ApartmentCCTV video data from an in-home surveillance camera monitoring system with internet WIFI technology recorded the dynamic entry of the OPS Tactical Team members, including the entrance door being forced open, the lobbing and detonation of the distraction device, and the streaming of police officers into the apartment.
The video was without a time stamp. The audio component begins with the sound from a television broadcast that is interrupted by the banging of a door that is heard as it is first struck by a battering ram with someone [believed to be a police officer] shouting, “Police don’t move!” The entrance door swings fully open from the battering ram and strikes the wall behind on its hinge side. As the automatic door-closer at the top of the door assists the door to close, something or someone in the exterior hallway opens the door enough for the distraction device to be lobbed into the apartment.
The device detonates and the entryway fills with grey smoke illuminated from flashlights on weapons carried by the first two police officers to enter the apartment unit. A police officer is heard shouting, “Police. Don’t move!” twice, then another police officer shouts, “Show me your hands!” followed by another command, “Police, don’t move,” and then another police officer shouting, “On the balcony, on the balcony!”
The audio recorded aspect of the video terminates with the sound of a police officer shouting, “Ottawa Police!” There was an audio delay of about 0.50 seconds between the viewable actions described herein due to the limited capabilities of the audio components built into the surveillance camera device.
OPS Communications Audio Recordings - PrimaryOn October 7, 2020, the Tactical Team dispatch radio communications commenced at 8:24 a.m. At 29 minutes and 39 seconds into the recording, meaning at approximately 8:53:39 a.m., WO #7 transmitted, “On the south side of the building, threw something out,” with the transmission ending about two seconds later at approximately 8:53:41 a.m. About ten seconds later, at approximately 8:53:51 a.m., the same police officer transmitted, “He’s jumped, he jumped from the building.” Immediately thereafter, these communications audio recordings included transmissions for the deployment of emergency medical services to the southeast side of the apartment building.
OPS Communications Audio Recordings – SecondaryOn October 7, 2020, at 9:08:00 a.m., an agent with the monitoring centre for the GPS monitoring bracelet device attached to the Complainant’s left ankle telephoned the OPS reporting that they had received a ‘device tamper’ signal in relation to the device attached to the Complainant.
OPS Communications Audio Recordings - TertiaryOn October 7, 2020, at 9:10:27 a.m., WO #7 telephoned the OPS requesting that four police officers be sent to 2020 Jasmine Crescent “ASAP” regarding the Drug Unit’s search warrant.
On October 7, 2020, at 9:10:27 a.m., an agent with RSC telephoned the OPS informing them of a “violation of bail” by a client (now known to be the Complainant), “Who has just disabled their GPS bracelet.”
Other communications pertained to the deployment of police and emergency services after the Complainant had landed on the ground and was being provided first aid by police officers at the scene.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceThe SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the OPS:
• Computer-aided Dispatch Report (x3);
• Communications recordings;
• Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Application served on OPS;
• Narrative of SOs, WO #1 to WO #7 and WO #9;
• Notes of SOs and WOs
• OPS Civilian Witness List;
• OPS Drug Unit Operations and Incident Plan regarding search warrant;
• OPS Operations-Incident Plan;
• OPS Police Witness List;
• Pathology Preliminary Police Report; and
• Search Warrant Documents.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from non-police sources:
• Ambulance Call and Incident Reports;
• CBC court documents used in its application to unseal Information to Obtain;
• CCTV data from inside and outside the apartment;
• Floorplan – 2020 Jasmine Crescent;
• Note typed by CW #3 dated October 15, 2020;
• Preliminary Autopsy Findings from the Ontario Forensic Pathology Unit;
• Report of Post-mortem Examination, dated December 31, 2020, from the Ontario Forensic Pathology Unit; and
• RSC data for GPS ankle monitor.
Shortly before 9:00 a.m. of October 7, 2020, a team of OPS tactical officers breached the door of an apartment at 2020 Jasmine Crescent. The officers were there to execute a warrant authorizing the search of the apartment for firearms, illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia. With the door open, a distraction device was deployed into the apartment, detonating with a loud bang and flash of light, and producing a smoky haze. Officers streamed into the apartment shouting their presence - “Police” – and directing that occupants of the unit not move.
The Complainant was inside the apartment at the time. At the sound of the commotion generated by the police entry, the Complainant climbed through his bedroom window and jumped. Seconds prior to his descent, the Complainant had thrown a baggie from the same window. The item was subsequently seized by police and found to contain fentanyl.
The search warrant had been obtained by officers with the OPS Drug Unit, who came to be in the possession of information from confidential sources that the Complainant had resumed his drug trafficking activities since his release from custody in March 2020. The Complainant had been arrested in January 2020 for being in possession of illegal drugs and a loaded handgun. Among the conditions of his release were that he remain inside his residence and that he wear a GPS device attached to his ankle to monitor his movements. The drug unit officers also had reason to believe that the Complainant was again in possession of firearms.
SO #2 and SO #3 jointly swung the ram that forced open the door to the apartment. SO #1 was the officer who deployed the distraction device. Also on the team that day were WO #2, WO #3, WO #4, WO #5, and the team leader – WO #9.
The officers entered the apartment and quickly began to move from room to room. The Complainant’s stepfather, CW #4, had been on the balcony when the team entered. He was taken into custody and placed in the living room. CW #5, the Complainant’s girlfriend, was in the bathroom when a tactical officer – SO #1 – located and escorted her into the living room. The Complainant’s younger siblings – CW #2 and CW #3 – lived in the apartment and were woken by the police raid. Lastly, the Complainant’s grandmother was located in her bed in one of the bedrooms.
Within seconds of the officers’ entry into the apartment, WO #7, who was stationed outside the apartment building at its southeast corner with a view of the apartment, radioed that something had been discarded from the residence seconds after he heard the distraction device detonating. About ten seconds later, WO #7 radioed that someone – the Complainant – had jumped from the apartment.
The first officer to enter the Complainant’s bedroom was WO #5. By that time, WO #7’s radio transmissions had already been broadcast and the only person in the bedroom was CW #2.
WO #7 ran to where the Complainant had landed and observed drug unit officers beside the body. A paramedic, who had attended the scene with the tactical officers and was staged outside the building, quickly arrived and began to administer first aid. His partner soon joined him.
The Complainant lost vital signs and could not be resuscitated. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Quantities of heroin and fentanyl were seized in the search of the apartment, as was a Voodoo AR15-style “BB” gun. No handgun was located.
Cause of DeathThe pathologist at autopsy attributed the Complainant’s death to “multiple injuries”. In the Report of Postmortem Examination, the pathologist noted:
The overall pattern of the injuries was in keeping with a fatal descent from height, with the decedent landing on soft ground. The injuries to the internal organs were a function of both blunt impact with the ground and acute deceleration forces.
Section 219, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing death
(a) in doing anything, or(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
Section 220, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm220 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.
Analysis and Director's Decision
At the outset of the liability analysis, it bears noting that there is no evidence of any direct, physical force having been brought to bear by any of the tactical officers against the Complainant. I have no reason to discount the evidence of the officers inside the apartment, backed up by the observations and contemporaneous utterances of WO #7 captured on police communication recordings, that the Complainant left his apartment via a bedroom window within seconds of the officers’ entry into the unit and before any of them had reached his room, which, incidentally, was the furthest from the front door.
The offence that arises for consideration, in my view, is criminal negligence causing death contrary to section 220 of the Criminal Code. The offence is reserved for serious cases of neglect that demonstrate a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons. Simply negligence is not enough to give rise to liability. Rather, what is required, in part, is conduct that amounts to a marked and substantial departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was any want of care in the manner in which the police operation was devised and executed that played a role in the Complainant’s death and was sufficiently egregious as to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.
I am satisfied that the tactical officers had lawful grounds to enter and search the apartment. The day before, on October 6, 2020, the drug unit had secured a warrant authorizing a search of the apartment for firearms, drugs and drug paraphernalia. The warrant was in effect at the time of the events in question.
Though subject to legitimate scrutiny in part, I am further satisfied that the plan developed to enter the apartment and the manner of its execution did not transgress the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. The morning of the raid, the tactical officers were apprised of the search warrant in effect and briefed on the objectives of the operation by the drug unit. They were advised of the Complainant’s January 2020 arrest on drug and weapons charges, that information had been gathered indicating the Complainant was continuing to deal in drugs and was in possession of a handgun, and that he was to be arrested in the apartment. Consideration was given to the manner of entry. One of the options was a “breach and call-out” whereby the front door was forced upon and occupants called out one by one by officers from a position of safety. The other alternative was a “dynamic entry”, in which officers would storm the unit using the element of surprise and an overwhelming show of force to disorient the occupants and neutralize any potential threats before they materialized. The latter was decided by the incident commander, WO #8, for a variety of reasons, including the presence of third-party tenants on the floor and the risk of casualties or a barricaded person situation developing should a person in the apartment decide to arm themselves in a “breach and call-out” scenario. There were risks inherent in both approaches, in my view, particularly as the Complainant was on firearms-related charges and police had cause to believe he was still armed, and I am unable to reasonably conclude that the choice to go with a dynamic entry was without merit.
In arriving at this conclusion, I am mindful that dynamic entries have been the subject of public criticism and judicial censure. In R. v. Bahlawan, 2020 ONSC 952, for example, the court chastised the choice by OPS tactical officers in that case to execute a search warrant by way of dynamic entry. The rule, the court noted, was that police were to knock and announce their presence before entering a home with a search warrant. A departure from the rule would only be countenanced where justified on the basis of exceptional circumstances, such as where there existed reasonable grounds to be concerned about the risk of harm to officers or occupants, or the destruction of evidence. In Bahlawan, supra, the tactical officers had proceeded with a dynamic entry based on accepted practice without considering why the knock-and-announce approach was inappropriate and, in doing so, had violated the accused’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
The same cannot be said of the dynamic entry that occurred in this case. The officers very expressly adverted to proceeding with a different manner of entry, namely, the “breach and call-out”, and decided, whether rightly or wrongly, that a dynamic entry was the better option. Moreover, unlike the circumstances in Bahlawan, supra, the police had an objectively articulable basis to be concerned about the presence of a firearms in the residence. To reiterate, the Complainant was at the time facing firearms-related charges and the police had information to the effect that he was presently in possession of a handgun.
It is of concern that the tactical officers did not appear to pay sufficient heed to the possibility that the subject of the search warrant – the Complainant – might attempt to flee apprehension via a descent from the building. And yet, I am satisfied, that is precisely what occurred.  A number of officers expressed the view that the possibility was a remote one given the height of the apartment in question on the 12th floor. However, recent high-profile and not as high-profile cases investigated by this office indicate that the possibility materializes from time-to-time in these types of police operations. In my view, the officers ought to have turned their attention to this contingency and made some provision for it.  It might have been wise, for example, to establish a very visible police presence below the Complainant’s 12th floor apartment to deter any rash action motivated by a desire to escape. That said, it must be recognized that one of the benefits of a dynamic entry is the speed with which the officers are able to establish control over a scene, foreclosing in at least some cases, presumably, conduct such as occurred in this case.
In the result, while I accept that the impetus for the Complainant’s decision to jump from his window was a desire to escape apprehension at the hands of the officers entering his apartment, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the involved officers, including the three subject officers, contributed to the Complainant’s death by way of criminal negligence. Though there may have been shortcomings in the operation that saw officers enter the Complainant’s apartment by way of dynamic entry, any such deficiencies fell short of rendering the officers’ conduct a marked and substantial departure from a reasonable level of care. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.
Date: August 30, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) I arrive at this conclusion given the evidence of the baggie, containing fentanyl, that the Complainant was seen to throw from his bedroom window just before he jumped. [Back to text]
- 2) Though there was some evidence that the Complainant suffered from mental illness, which might have given rise to a heightened concern for rash conduct on the part of the Complainant, the police were unaware of any such conditions at the time of the operation nor were any such cautions present in police records at the time. [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.