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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-TCI-054

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 injuries sustained by a 46-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On March 14, 2019, at 2:45 p.m., the Complainant called the SIU to report an injury during his arrest by Toronto Police Service (TPS) officers. The Complainant advised that he suffered fractures to his nose and rib as well as a concussion.

The Complainant advised that on December 24, 2017, he was at the Pantages Hotel, 200 Victoria Street in Toronto, visiting his former spouse [now known to be CW #3]. At approximately 11:30 p.m., the TPS responded to a domestic dispute involving the Complainant and CW #3. The Complainant thought that he was verbally abusive to the police and was arrested. He denied resisting his arrest but the police officers kept yelling at him to stop resisting.

The Complainant was taken to St. Michael's Hospital and later treated at several other Toronto hospitals for his injuries.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
 

Complainant:

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


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)
CW #2 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed 

Witness Officers

WO #1 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #2 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #3 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #4 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #5 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
WO #7 Interviewed
WO #8 Interviewed
WO #9 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #10 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #11 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed


Subject Officers

SO #1 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right
SO #2 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right. [1]
SO #3 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right
SO #4 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right


Evidence

The Scene

The scene of the arrest was confined to the main carpeted hallway on the 17th floor in the vicinity of a room that was essentially across the elevator. The hallway was illuminated with artificial lighting and about eight feet wide. All of the room doors had glass-covered peepholes for one-way viewing by hotel room occupants.

Communications Recordings

The audio recordings indicated a sense of urgency in the call from the hotel’s management made to the TPS and, otherwise, were unremarkable.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

There was no closed circuit television (CCTV) equipment installed and operational on the 17th floor at the time of the incident. 

TPS Video Recordings


During the booking process at the police station, the Complainant asked to be returned to the hospital. The officer in charge of the booking process was heard at about 7:20 p.m., saying that he has already been at the hospital for nearly four hours and asked the Complainant if he told the hospital staff before he was discharged any reason why he should not be discharged. The Complainant indicated that he did and the officer in charge commented to the effect that he was in the police station now and would not be going back to hospital. The video data pertaining to the Complainant’s transportation to court offered no information of any probative value in respect of his injuries and the incident in and of itself.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
  • Bail Brief;
  • CAD Log Search;
  • Communications audio recordings;
  • Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Event Details Report (x2);
  • Contact Synopsis-Complainant (x2);
  • Drawing by WO #7;
  • Email from TPS re involved officers-Mar 26, 2019;
  • Email from TPS re involved officers-Mar 28, 2019;
  • General Occurrence;
  • Injury Report of SO #2 and WO #9;
  • Notes of WO #1 to WO #10;
  • Photographs of SO #1;
  • Scenes of Crime Officer (SOCO) photographs;
  • Training Document-Weapon Retention;
  • Training Record-Use of Force-SO #4; and
  • Video Recordings.

Incident Narrative

There is much that remains unknown about the circumstances surrounding the events in question. There were minimal details provided by civilians involved in this incident. None of the subject officers agreed to interviews with the SIU, nor did they authorize the release of their notes about the incident, as was their legal right. And there were no other eyewitnesses identified by the SIU, police or non-police, who provided information to the investigation about the actual arrest.

What little is known from the weight of the reliable evidence can be summarized in short order. The Complainant and CW #3 were staying in a hotel room late in the evening on December 24, 2017. They soon became embroiled in a heated argument and what some ear witnesses described as a fight. A guest staying in a nearby room called the front desk to complain and express concern. The police were called and officers were dispatched. Arriving shortly before 1:00 a.m., they located the Complainant naked in the hallway outside CW #3’s room, banging on the door. A confrontation ensued between the officers and the Complainant, in the course of which the Complainant sustained a laceration to his face, and perhaps a concussion. One of the subject officers, SO #1, appears to have suffered a cut to the head during the struggle in the hallway. The Complainant was eventually subdued and arrested by the officers.

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 hours of December 25, 2017, a number of TPS officer responded to a room on the 17th floor of the Pantages Hotel on Victoria Street in Toronto. They were there following a complaint of a disturbance involving a man and a woman in the unit. The man in question was the Complainant. He was arrested by officers following a physical struggle, and suffered injuries in the process, including a laceration to his face, and possibly a concussion. For the reasons that follow, there are no reasonable grounds in my view to believe that any of the officers involved in the altercation – SO #1, SO #2, SO #3, and SO #4 – committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’ arrest and injuries.

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 authorized or required by law to do. On the evidence collected by the SIU, I am satisfied that the subject officers had reasonable grounds to believe the Complainant had committed an assault based on the information at their disposal from the 911 call and the circumstances in which they encountered the Complainant upon their arrival. Accordingly, they were within their rights in attempting to arrest him. With respect to the propriety of the force that was used against the Complainant, while it appears that the Complainant was struck at least several times, and that he resisted his arrest, the nature and extent of the force that was used by the involved parties remains largely unknown. In this factual vacuum, there is no basis to reasonably conclude that the force used by the officers fell afoul of the latitude prescribed by the criminal law. Consequently, there are no grounds for proceeding with charges against the subject officers notwithstanding the injuries the Complainant suffered, and the file is closed.


Date: July 4, 2019

Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit

Footnotes

  • 1) SO #2 was initially designated a witness officer and attended for an interview under that designation. This interview was not completed and the officer was re-designated as a subject officer. [Back to text]