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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-OCI-162

Contents:

News Releases for this Case:

French:

Mandate of the SIU

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. The Unit’s jurisdiction covers more than 50 municipal, regional and provincial police services across Ontario.

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.

Information Restrictions

Freedom of Information and Protection of Personal 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. 
Pursuant to section 21 of FIPPA (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this document. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
  • 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.


Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)

Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.

Other proceedings, processes, and investigations

Information 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.

Mandate Engaged

The Unit’s investigative jurisdiction is limited to those incidents where there is a serious injury (including sexual assault allegations) or death in cases involving the police.

“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 serious injury reportedly sustained by a 43-year-old male (the Complainant) while in police custody on May 24, 2018.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On Thursday, May 31, 2018, the complainant contacted the SIU and advised that he had suffered an injury to his ribs while in the custody of the North Bay Police Service (NBPS) on May 24, 2018. The injury reportedly occurred inside the NBPS station following the Complainant’s arrest at about 4:00 p.m. on the date in question. He was subsequently diagnosed with a number of rib fractures.

On Friday, June 1, 2018, at 11:30 a.m., the SIU contacted the NBPS and confirmed that NBPS officers had arrested the Complainant on May 24, 2018. The NBPS reported that officers had been called to the Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing (CCCN) by Civilian Witness (CW) #2, as the Complainant appeared to be intoxicated and there was concern for his well-being. According to the NBPS, CW #2 had indicated that the Complainant had complained about having sore ribs prior to his involvement with the police on that date.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 0

Complainant:

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


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed, notes received and reviewed
WO #2 Interviewed, notes received and reviewed
WO #3 Interviewed, notes received and reviewed
WO #4 Interviewed, notes received and reviewed


Subject Officers

The SO Interviewed, notes received and reviewed



Evidence

The Scene

It was reported that the injury to the Complainant was caused in the NBPS station.

Forensic Evidence

No submissions were made to the Centre of Forensic Sciences.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


NBPS Cell Video


During the booking process, the Complainant was standing in front of the booking table. The Complainant, while handcuffed and with an officer on each arm, leaned into and bumped the SO with his right shoulder. The Complainant was then bent forward onto the table and restrained. He was immediately led to a cell with an officer on each arm. He was guided through the doorway into the cell without making contact with the door or bars. He was restrained face-down on the bed by the SO, WO #2 and WO #3, as the handcuffs were removed. The officers then exited the cell.

Communications Recordings


911 Call received at 6:40:31 p.m.


CW #1 made a 911 call to report that the Complainant was walking on McIntyre Street. CW #1 indicated that she thought that the Complainant had a broken rib.


NBPS Radio Communications


The NBPS dispatcher told the SO and WO #3, before they came in contact with the Complainant, that the Complainant, "might be having difficulty running as he's got a broken rib."

The SO was told while at the CCCN that the Complainant “was on a probation order for utter threats, theft of motor vehicle, possession of a weapon, fail to comply with undertaking and recognizance. The condition was, ‘Do not be outside your residence with alcohol in your body’.”

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the NBPS:

  • Arrest Booking Report;
  • Arrest Report;
  • Background Event Chronology;
  • Cell Block Video;
  • Communications Recording – 911 call;
  • Custody Record;
  • Custody Summary;
  • General Report;
  • NBPS Radio Communications Recording;
  • NBPS Witness Statement of CW #2;
  • Notes of WOs #1-4 and the SO;
  • Occurrence Summary;
  • Procedure: Arrest;
  • Procedure: Prisoner Care and Control; and,
  • Supplementary Occurrence Report (Escort Sick Prisoner).

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from other sources:

  • Medical Records of the Complainant relating to this incident, obtained with his consent.

Incident Narrative

At approximately 6:40 p.m. on May 24, 2018, the NBPS received a 911 call from CW #1, a worker at the Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing (CCCN), requesting police assistance with respect to a client, the Complainant, who she described as being intoxicated and completely out of control and who was running into traffic. CW #1 also described the Complainant as being all scratched up and she believed that he had a broken rib.

Police immediately responded to the CCCN and the Complainant was arrested and transported to the police station. Once at the station, he was initially lodged in a cell, but was transported to the hospital the following morning as he was complaining about rib pain. At the hospital, the Complainant was diagnosed with non-displaced rib fractures.

On May 31, 2018, the Complainant contacted the SIU to report that he had sustained two fractured ribs as a result of a force by the police officers with whom he was involved while in custody.

Analysis and Director's Decision

The video recordings from the police station captured the impugned interactions between the involved officers and the Complainant. At one point, while the Complainant is seen to be bent over a table and restrained in the booking area, apparently in order to remove his footwear, he was at no time thrown into the table, and there is no indication on the video that he was injured at that time. Moreover, there is no indication in the recordings that the Complainant was shoved into a bar on the cell door when he was being escorted into the cell. Rather, the video reveals that he was guided through the doorway into the cell without ever making any contact with either the door or the bars.

While the evidence gathered by the SIU is incapable of establishing precisely when, how, or at whose hands, if any, the Complainant was injured, I am satisfied that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the rib fractures were caused by the police, or if they were, that any of the involved officers, including the SO, committed a criminal offence in connection with the injuries. On the contrary, the evidence clearly establishes that the Complainant was inebriated at the time of the events in question in violation of a condition of his probation, and that his arrest was entirely lawful on this basis alone. Thereafter, I am satisfied that the police officers used only reasonable and marginal force at the police station in the course of removing the Complainant’s shoes when he refused to do so and placing him into his cell, which force was unlikely to have caused the Complainant’s injuries. Consequently, I am satisfied that there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges against the SO in this case, and the file is closed.


Date: April 16, 2019


Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit