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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-PCI-209

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 serious injuries sustained by a 69-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On July 16, 2018, at 4:28 p.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant.

The OPP reported that on July 16, 2018, at about 12:00 p.m., the Complainant was involved in a physical altercation with someone in the vicinity of the parking lot associated with 99 Main Street East, in Huntsville.

The subject officer (SO) responded to the parking lot and apprehended the Complainant pursuant to the Mental Health Act (MHA). A struggle ensued in the course of the apprehension and the SO was assisted by three civilians. The Complainant sustained some scrapes and related soft tissue injuries, and was transported by the SO to the Huntsville District Memorial Hospital (HDMH), where he was treated for his soft tissue injuries and admitted to the hospital secondary to Form 1 under the MHA. [1] In the course of the Complainant's admission or assessment, he complained of rib pain, and at 3:25 p.m., was diagnosed with three rib fractures.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned:

Complainant:

69-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
CW #6 Interviewed
CW #7 Interviewed 

Subject Officers

SO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right

Note: A subject officer is a police officer whose conduct appears, in the Director’s opinion, to have caused the death or serious injury under investigation.

Subject officers are invited, but cannot be legally compelled, to present themselves for an interview with the SIU and they do not have to submit their notes to the SIU pursuant to Ontario Regulation 267/10 of the Police Services Act.]

Evidence

The Scene

A plaza parking lot associated with 99 Main Street East. The plaza consisted of three businesses: Pizza Nova, Tim Hortons coffee shop and Mac’s conveniences store.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

The onsite CCTV cameras did not capture any of the interaction.

Communications Recordings

Civilian Witness (CW) #4 phoned the OPP Communications and reported an altercation in the parking lot of Tim Hortons. A man [now known to be the Complainant] argued violently with CW #2.

The SO made a radio broadcast, informing the Complainant was in custody for assault and would be transported to the hospital for further assessment. The OPP Communications spoke with the Emergency Department, notifying their police officer would be bringing in a man with a mental health problem.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP:
  • General Report;
  • InterRAI Brief Mental Health Screener;
  • Occurrence Details;
  • Occurrence Involvements;
  • Occurrence Summary;
  • Supplementary Report; and
  • Training Record-the SO.

Incident Narrative

The events on question are relatively straightforward on the weight of the reliable evidence gathered by the SIU, which included statements from the Complainant and several eyewitnesses. At about noon, police were dispatched to the scene of an altercation in front of several commercial establishments on Main Street East. The Complainant and CW #2 had been involved in an argument. The SO responded and arrived at the parking lot and spoke with CW #2. Believing that he had, in fact, been assaulted by the Complainant, the officer moved in to arrest the Complainant. The Complainant resisted his arrest and a physical struggle ensued, which involved a civilian who intervened to assist the officer. The Complainant was handcuffed on the ground and taken to hospital, where he was admitted for psychiatric assessment under provisions of the MHA. The Complainant was subsequently diagnosed with three rib fractures.

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

The Complainant was arrested in the parking lot of a retail plaza in Huntsville by the SO on July 16, 2018. He suffered three rib fractures in the process. For the reasons that follow, I am satisfied there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO 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 their use of force to that which is reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they are required or authorized to do by law. The Complainant’s arrest by the SO for assault was clearly lawful in view of the Complainant’s behaviour just prior to the officer’s arrival. I am also satisfied that the SO’s use of force fell within the latitude afforded officers in the circumstances that prevailed. While evidence of the arrest varied to a degree, there was ample evidence that the Complainant resisted throughout his arrest, and at no point was the Complainant punched, kneed or kicked. On this record, it is apparent that the force used by the SO was commensurate with the level of the Complainant’s resistance and, therefore, no more than was reasonably necessary to effect the Complainant’s arrest. Accordingly, while I accept that the Complainant suffered fractured ribs during the arrest, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges against the SO and the file is closed.


Date: July 24, 2019

Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit

Footnotes

  • 1) Application by physician for psychiatric assessment, allows holding a patient for up to 72 hours in order to undergo a psychiatric assessment. [Back to text]