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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-OCI-143

Contents:

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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 a serious injury sustained by a 17-year-old male.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On May 13, 2018, at 7:05 a.m., the Chatham-Kent Police Service (CKPS) called to report an incident. At 12:09 a.m., on May 13, 2018, the subject officer (SO) was investigating the Complainant, who had provided a false name and fled on foot. The SO engaged in a foot pursuit and caught the Complainant, handcuffed him and brought him back to his CKPS cruiser. There was a struggle and the SO grounded the Complainant, who was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a fractured nasal bone.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1

Complainant:

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


Civilian Witnesses

CW Interviewed 

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed


Evidence

The Scene

An SIU Forensic Investigator attended and took photographs of the strip mall and then attended CKPS and took photographs of the blood on the back and side of the SO’s CKPS cruiser.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

The SIU canvassed the area for any video or audio recordings, and photographic evidence. There were cameras in the area but none covered the area of the arrest.

Materials obtained from Police Service

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

  • Booking Report;
  • Arrest Report;
  • Background Event Chronology;
  • CAD Event Details;
  • Case File Synopsis;
  • Communication Recordings;
  • Notes of WO #1, WO #2, WO #3, WO #4 and the SO;
  • Subject Profile – the Complainant;
  • Will State of WO #1, WO #2, WO #3, WO #4 and the SO.

Incident Narrative

The events in question are largely apparent on the information gathered in the investigation, which heard from the Complainant, the CW (an acquaintance of the Complainant who was in the area at the time of the incident), the SO and a number of witness officers. The investigation also benefitted from a review of the police communications recordings and the Complainant’s medical records.

Shortly after midnight on the date in question, the Complainant, in breach of his curfew, was walking with the CW on St. Clair Street in Chatham-Kent, when he caught the attention of the SO. The officer, on patrol in his cruiser, had noticed the CW unstable on her feet and crossing the roadway. Having ensured her safety, the SO approached the Complainant on the west side of the road and asked for his name. The Complainant was in possession of a bicycle without any lighting, and the officer was contemplating charging him with an infraction under the Highway Traffic Act. The Complainant provided a false name. Returning from his cruiser, having checked and failed to verify the Complainant’s name, the SO asked him for his address. The Complainant proceeded to throw his bicycle down and flee. The SO gave chase on foot and caught up with the Complainant in the area of a Tim Hortons parking lot. He grabbed the Complainant and the two fell to the ground. The SO arrested the Complainant for obstructing a peace officer and secured his hands behind his back in handcuffs. As he was being escorted back to the SO’s cruiser, the Complainant attempted to break free from the officer, prompting the officer to ground the Complainant. The Complainant fell forward, breaking his nose in the process. An ambulance was called and the Complainant was taken to hospital.

Relevant Legislation

Section 25(1), Criminal Code -- Protection of persons acting under authority

25 (1) Every one who is required or authorized by law to do anything in the administration or enforcement of the law
(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,
is, if he acts on reasonable grounds, justified in doing what he is required or authorized to do and in using as much force as is necessary for that purpose.

Analysis and Director's Decision

In the early morning of May 13, 2018, the Complainant suffered a broken nose in the course of his arrest by the SO of the CKPS. For the reasons that follow, I am satisfied that there are no reasonable grounds to believe the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with his arrest and injury.

Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, police officers are restricted in their use of force to that which is reasonably necessary in the execution of a lawful duty. Given the curfew that the Complainant was breaching, the lack of lighting on his bicycle, and his efforts to mislead and evade the SO, the officer had lawful grounds to stop the Complainant when he did and then arrest him for obstruction. Thereafter, the two groundings that occurred, each prompted by the Complainant’s attempts to flee and escape apprehension, were in my view a measured and proportional effort to take control and maintain custody of the Complainant, falling within the range of what was reasonably necessary to effect the Complainant’s arrest.

In the result, while I accept that the second grounding was the cause of the Complainant’s broken nose, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the force used by the SO was legally authorized under section 25(1) of the Criminal Code. Consequently, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case and the file is closed.


Date: May 3, 2019
Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit