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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-TCI-196

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 serious injuries sustained by a 74-year-old woman.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On July 1, 2018, at 11:45 p.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) reported an injury that occurred on the previous night. The TPS reported that at 11:57 p.m. on June 30, 2018, TPS officers responded to a long-term care home in Scarborough, regarding an assault.

Responding police officers learned that one of the residents, the Complainant, allegedly assaulted another female resident. The Complainant, who was diagnosed with dementia, was aggressive with paramedics who had to pin her to the floor to control her. Staff placed the Complainant in a chair and the responding police officers, having formed grounds to arrest her, handcuffed the Complainant while she was seated, using two sets of handcuffs so as not to risk any injury.

The Complainant was taken to the hospital, assessed, and released back to the long-term care home.

When she complained of pain, she was taken back to the hospital where she was found to have fractured ribs, a fractured right wrist, and a fractured right arm. [1]

The long-term care home staff relayed the information to TPS.

The TPS advised the entire incident might have been captured on video.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3

Complainant:

74-year-old female, medical records obtained and reviewed

The Complainant was not interviewed because she had no recollection of any interaction with the police.


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed 

Witness Officers

WO Interviewed

Additionally, the notes from one other officer were received and reviewed.


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed


Evidence

The Scene

There was no scene for examination.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


Long-Term Care Home Security Video Recordings


The video recordings consisted of colour video recordings with no audio.

The camera at the nursing station captured portions of an incident in which, at 11:31:47 p.m., the Complainant allegedly pushed another female resident. Staff responded to assist and called for an ambulance.

A camera in the corridor captured the Complainant entering her room at 11:31:54 p.m.

At 12:06:20 a.m. on July 1, 2018, the Complainant exited her room and walked to the nursing station.

The nursing station camera recorded three male paramedics arriving at 12:06:42 a.m. and tending to the injured resident.

At 12:07:17 a.m., the corridor camera captured Civilian Witness (CW) #3 escorting the Complainant back to her room. At 12:14 a.m., she exited her room again and returned to the nursing station.

Something appeared to transpire out of view of the nursing station camera that captured CW #3’s and CW #2’s attention. CW #2 was seen to stand from her seat at the nursing station and appeared concerned, while all paramedics were out of view.

At 12:15:27 a.m., paramedics entered the camera view and, about 30 seconds later, CW #2 made a phone call.

At 12:17:27 a.m., the corridor camera captured CW #3 walking the Complainant back to her room, holding her right hand. As they did, the Complainant stopped and lifted the right side of her top, exposing her right breast while motioning to her upper chest.

At 12:17:52 a.m., two TPS officers, now known to be the Subject Officer (SO) and the Witness Officer (WO), arrived at the fifth floor. They approached the paramedics and spoke to them with CW #2 present.

At 12:22:53 a.m., the police officers entered the Complainant’s room followed by CW #1. CW #1 walked out of the room at 12:23:45 a.m. The police officers exited the room at 12:25:20 a.m., escorting the Complainant, who was handcuffed with her hands behind her back with two connected pairs of handcuffs. The WO was on her left side while the SO was on her right side with a grip on the Complainant’s forearm and hand.

The Complainant was escorted to the elevator and then out the main entrance door to the parked cruiser.

In-Car Camera System (ICCS) Recording


The ICCS recording started at 12:28 a.m. on July 1, 2018 with the front and rear facing cameras activating as the SO and the WO escorted the Complainant to the cruiser. She was handcuffed with her hands behind her back when she was seated in the rear left seat. The WO entered the driver seat while the SO walked out of camera view. The WO began speaking to the Complainant and advised that she was under arrest for assault. The Complainant yelled that she did not assault “them,” but rather they assaulted her. The WO told her that he did not believe the paramedics assaulted her. The SO approached the driver side of the cruiser and asked the WO for the Complainant’s date of birth before she returned to the long-term care home.

While waiting, the WO requested dispatch send police officers to the hospital to take a statement from a witness and the paramedics. In a phone call, he asked someone, likely the SO, about security cameras and mental health issues. In another call, he advised someone that they were taking the Complainant to the hospital under the Mental Health Act. At one point, the WO told the Complainant that they were taking her to hospital not for injuries, but because they were worried as to why she was hurting other people. The Complainant continued to tell the WO that “they” attacked her.

At 12:55 a.m., the SO entered the cruiser and they departed for the hospital. En route, the police officers spoke about the Complainant’s patient file indicating she had “unspecified dementia.”

Shortly after arriving at the hospital, the Complainant complained about her hands and exclaimed in pain as the police officers attempted to remove her from the car. The SO entered the right rear door to assist getting the Complainant out as she appeared to have become stuck. She reached for the Complainant’s right arm to assist her and the Complainant told the SO to be careful as her hand was twisted. The SO placed her left hand on the Complainant’s right arm while the WO bent down at the left rear door to help the Complainant get her feet out. The WO helped the Complainant exit via the left rear door by lifting her by her left arm before the recording ended.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
  • General Occurrence Report; and
  • Notes of the SO, the WO and an undesignated officer.

Incident Narrative

The SO and the WO attended the long-term care home responding to a 911 call reporting an assault having allegedly been committed by the Complainant against another resident. Just prior to their arrival, paramedics, who had been dispatched to the facility in relation to injuries suffered by the person the Complainant had reportedly assaulted, had had to restrain the Complainant on the floor; she had attempted to intervene violently in their efforts, biting one of them on the hand. The officers located the Complainant in her room and advised her she was under arrest. The Complainant attempted to kick the SO and bite the WO. The officers responded by physically controlling her head to prevent her from biting. In short order, the Complainant was handcuffed and escorted to the elevator, whereupon she was taken to the ground floor and lodged in a police cruiser. Following discussion between them and another officer, and learning that the Complainant suffered from dementia, she was ultimately apprehended under the Mental Health Act and taken to hospital for assessment. The Complainant was ultimately diagnosed with a right wrist fracture.

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

At about 12:25 a.m. of July 1, 2018, the Complainant was arrested in the long-term care home at which she was a resident by members of the TPS. The SO and the WO were the arresting officers. For the reasons that follow, I am satisfied that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the arrest and a fractured wrist that the Complainant may have suffered in and around that time.

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 an act that they are required or authorized by law to do. Having consulted with staff at the facility and spoken to the paramedics at the scene, the officers had ample grounds to believe the Complainant had committed an assault and they were within their rights in deciding to place her under arrest. Thereafter, it is apparent that the force they used in controlling the Complainant so that she could be handcuffed was minimal and proportional to her level of resistance. The officers were fully sensitive to the Complainant’s age and mental affliction, and did what they could to mitigate any trauma resulting from the process. For example, they used two sets of handcuffs to secure her arms behind her back so as to minimize any discomfort. Thereafter, the officers were careful with the Complainant as they accompanied her to their cruiser, and made what in my view was a reasonable decision to continue her apprehension under the Mental Health Act as opposed to the Criminal Code.

It is uncertain on the record generated by the SIU when precisely the Complainant was injured. Her fracture could have occurred as the result of the altercation with a fellow resident, during her interaction with the paramedics, or while being arrested and detained by the officers. Be that as it may, I am satisfied that the SO and the WO dealt with the Complainant lawfully throughout their encounter, and that there are therefore no grounds for proceeding with criminal charges in this case against either one of them.



Date: June 27, 2019



Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit

Footnotes

  • 1) The evidence gathered in the SIU’s investigation suggested that only the Complainant’s wrist was fractured at around the time of the incident. [Back to text]