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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-OCI-194

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 a serious injury sustained by a 32 year-old male.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On June 29, 2018, at 11:40 p.m., the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) reported to the SIU that at 2:40 p.m., that date, OPS police officers arrested the Complainant for public intoxication at the Shepherds of Good Hope Homeless Shelter (SGHHS) at 256 King Edward Avenue. He was combative, and was grounded and then taken to the Montfort Hospital (MH) and diagnosed with a fractured right wrist. 

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
 

Complainant:

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


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed 

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #6 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #7 Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO #1 Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right.
SO #2 Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right.


Evidence

The Scene

The scene was located on the sidewalk outside the main entrance doors of the SGHHS at 256 King Edward Avenue at the southwest corner of King Edward Avenue and Murray Street. There are numerous commercial properties in the area.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


SGHHS CCTV


SIU Investigators reviewed the closed circuit television (CCTV) recording from the exterior of the SGHHS. There was no audio on this footage. It captured the Complainant engaged in antagonistic and assaultive behaviour towards other shelter clients just prior to the arrival of police. (A canvass of properties in the immediate area was conducted for additional CCTV footage, with negative results).

At 2:37:24 p.m., WO #1, SO #1 and SO #2 rode north on police bicycles on King Edward Avenue along the west sidewalk in front of the SGHHS. WO #1 continued west bound on Murray Street and out of camera view.

At 2:37:34 p.m., as SO #1 passed the front doors of the shelter, the Complainant advanced quickly towards and within an arm’s length of him. SO #1 stopped and directed his attention towards the Complainant.

At 2:37:50 p.m., SO #1, with an open left hand, pushed the Complainant away in the chest area and immediately dismounted his bicycle. The Complainant put his hands up and walked backwards away from SO #1.

At 2:38:09 p.m., the Complainant remained outside the shelter while the police officers spoke with SGHHS staff members outside the front doors. A few minutes later, a shelter client pulled the Complainant back inside the front doors.

At 2:39:47 pm., SO #1 and SO #2 entered the SGHHS via the front doors into the foyer where SO #1 took control of the Complainant’s left arm and SO #2 the right arm. The Complainant resisted by struggling and refusing to give up his arms.

SO #1 kept control of the Complainant’s left arm. The Complainant pulled his right arm free from SO #2’s grasp and grabbed SO #2’s left wrist. SO #2 dropped his handcuffs, took control of the Complainant’s right wrist and pulled it back with the palm bent towards the forearm during an active struggle. The Complainant’s right arm was pulled out to the side by SO #2 who then picked up his handcuffs from the ground and placed a handcuff on the Complainant’s right wrist. The Complainant continued to struggle and attempted to pull his arms away as both of his hands were being secured behind his back by SO #1 and SO #2.

At 2:40:42 p.m., SO #1 and SO #2 escorted the Complainant outside where he was held up against, and facing, the exterior wall of the building by the police officers. SO #1 was at the left rear of the Complainant and SO #2 was at the right rear. The Complainant made repeated efforts to move off of the wall and to turn around. WO #1 arrived on scene and SO #2 left the area on foot shortly after.

At 3:03:19 p.m., the Complainant continued to struggle and SO #1 placed him in a wrist lock [unclear which wrist due to the distance and positioning of the parties].

At 3:04:18 p.m., SO #1 pulled the right side of the Complainant’s body down towards the ground while maintaining a constant hold of him. The Complainant landed first on his knees, then he fell forward and down onto his stomach. SO #1 kneeled at the Complainant’s right side while WO #1 stood over them. WO #1 took no part in the grounding.

OPS Cellblock


At 3:48 p.m., two special constables are seen escorting the Complainant down a search corridor leading from the booking area to the cell area. WO #3 is present throughout this interaction.

At 3:50:20 p.m., the Complainant was walked to just outside cell #1 by the special constables. One special constable removed the handcuffs from the Complainant, and the other removed the “spit hood,” and the Complainant was pushed into the cell. The door was slid closed and locked. The cell door was entirely Plexiglas set in a steel frame. The Complainant immediately began shouting and spitting on the inside of the Plexiglas. He then struck the Plexiglas door extremely hard four or five times with closed fists with the outer edge of both his left and right hands/wrists.

At 3:53 p.m., the Complainant again began striking the inside of the cell door with the outer edge of both his left and right hands/wrists three more times.

At 5:57 p.m., the Complainant stood inside the cell door shouting and a special constable came to the door. The Complainant was holding up his right wrist and pointing to it. The special constable left and returned a minute later with WO #4. The Complainant began shouting at WO #4 and presented his right wrist to him. WO #4 left the cell area at 6:03 p.m., and returned with two paramedics at 6:18 p.m.

Communications Recordings

SIU Investigators reviewed the OPS communication recording and it did not provide any relevant information to advance the investigation.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials from the OPS:
  • Accused Information Sheet (Booking Sheet);
  • Call Hardcopy;
  • Detention Report;
  • Investigative Action- WO #1, WO #2, WO #3, WO #4, WO #5 and WO #6;
  • MDT Logs for June 29 for WO #2 and SO #2;
  • Notes of WO #2, WO #3, WO #4, WO #5 and WO #6;
  • OPS CPIC Information for the Complainant;
  • OPS CPIC Profile for the Complainant;
  • OPS Photo of the Complainant;
  • OPS communications recordings;
  • Person Hardcopy- the Complainant;
  • Procedure- Arrest;
  • Procedure- Prisoner Care and Control;
  • Procedure- Use of Force;
  • Procedure- Prisoner Escort;
  • Procedure- Search of Persons;
  • Ticket Offence Hardcopy;
  • OPS cell block video; and
  • Training Records of SO #1 and SO #2.

Incident Narrative

The nature and extent of the Complainant’s dealings with various police officers on the day in question is clear based on the SIU’s investigation, which included information derived from video recordings that captured his arrest and time in custody, and statements from the Complainant, the subject officers and a number of civilian eyewitnesses. SO #1 and SO #2 were on bicycle patrol cycling north on the west sidewalk of King Edward Avenue when they observed the Complainant in and around the area of the SGHHS just south of Murray Street. The Complainant was drunk and in a belligerent mood. As SO #1 neared, the Complainant confronted the officer and challenged him to a fight. The officer pushed the Complainant away and got off his bicycle. He spoke with people from SGHHS and learned that the Complainant had demonstrated aggressive and combative behaviour. As the Complainant had nowhere else to go, and SO #1 was concerned that the Complainant was a danger to himself and others given his violent behaviour, the officer decided to arrest him for public intoxication. SO #1 and SO #2 followed the Complainant inside the front doors of the shelter, took hold of his arms and secured him in handcuffs after a brief struggle. Thereafter, the officers escorted the Complainant outside and placed him front-first against the wall just north of the shelter’s doors. The time was now 2:40 p.m. Over the next 20 minutes or so, the Complainant repeatedly attempted to push himself off the wall and spat in SO #1’s direction. SO #1 applied a wrist lock and ultimately took the Complainant to the ground in an effort to subdue him.

At around 3:50 p.m., the Complainant was placed inside a police prisoner van and taken to the Elgin Street police station. Shortly after being lodged in a cell, the Complainant began punching the cell door with his right and left hands. At about 6:00 p.m., with a special constable standing outside his cell, the Complainant held up his right hand and pointed to it. Paramedics arrived at the cell around 6:20 p.m. and transported the Complainant 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.

Section 31, Liquor Licence Act -- Arrest for public intoxication

31 (4) No person shall be in an intoxicated condition,
(a) In a place to which the general public is invited or permitted access; or
(b) In any part of a residence that is used in common by persons occupying more than one dwelling in the residence.
    (5) A police officer may arrest without warrant any person whom he or she finds 
         contravening subsection (4) if, in the opinion of the police officer, to do so is necessary           for the safety of any person.

Analysis and Director's Decision

The Complainant was diagnosed with a fractured right wrist at MH in Ottawa late on June 29, 2018. Earlier that day, the Complainant had been arrested by SO #1 and SO #2 and taken into custody following a physical struggle. Paramedics were summoned to his police cell after the Complainant complained about his injury, whereupon he was taken to hospital. For the reasons that follow, I am satisfied that neither subject officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s arrest and injury.

Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, police officers are restricted in the force they may use to that which is necessary in the execution of anything they are required or authorized by law to do. The Complainant was significantly impaired by alcohol, bellicose and combative, and without a sure place to stay. He was clearly a threat to himself and others, and the officers were within their rights in arresting him for public intoxication under section 31(5) of the Liquor Licence Act. The Complainant was in no mood to cooperate with his arrest. He physically resisted as the officers attempted to control his arms in order to place him in handcuffs, and then threatened to kill SO #1, spat in his direction and pushed against the officer as he was being restrained against the exterior wall. The officers responded by forcibly manipulating his arms and wrists in order to overcome the Complainant’s resistance, and SO #1 took the added step of grounding the Complainant in a controlled fashion to better protect against being spat upon. In my view, the force used by the officers was measured and proportionate, and fell within the range of what was reasonably necessary in the circumstances.

It remains unclear when precisely the Complainant fractured his right wrist. It might well have occurred during a physical altercation reportedly involving the Complainant prior to the subject officers’ arrival, in which case the officers are clearly not responsible. It could also have happened when the Complainant punched his cell door repeatedly. The Complainant, and the Complainant alone, would be to blame for that. Finally, one or the other of the subject officers may have broken the Complainant’s wrist in their dealings with him, in which event the injury was unfortunate but not the result of any criminal offence on the part of SO #1 and SO #2 for the aforementioned reasons. In the result, there are no reasonable grounds for proceeding with criminal charges in this case.


Date: June 10, 2019


Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit