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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-OCI-221

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 16-year-old female.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On July 23, 2018, at 2:39 p.m., the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) contacted the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and reported the following:

The OPS reported that on July 21, 2018, at 6:57 p.m., OPS officers responded to a family disturbance in the Orléans neighborhood of Ottawa. A woman (CW #1) had called the police to report that her daughter, the Complainant, had returned home intoxicated and an argument ensued.

When the police officers arrived, the Complainant was confrontational with her mother. The Complainant was subsequently grounded after charging towards a police officer. The Complainant was charged with several offences that were later dropped.

While en route to the police station, the Complainant complained of an injury. She was transported to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and diagnosed with a fractured left clavicle.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
 

Complainant:

16-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed

Witness Officers

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


Subject Officers

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


Evidence

The Scene

The scene was located inside the residence in Orléans, Ottawa. The interaction with police officers and the Complainant took place on the main floor of a two-story home. The interaction occurred between the living room and the kitchen, in a hallway. The flooring was believed to be hardwood or laminate.

Communications Recordings

The audio file consisted of telephone communications between CW #1 and OPS communications.

CW #1 dialed 911 seeking help from the police for her combative daughter, the Complainant. CW #1 advised OPS communications that her daughter was abusive, drunk and destroying plants in the backyard. Throughout the duration of the conversation there appeared to be a dynamic struggle between CW #1 and the Complainant.

CW #1 stated, “She’s coming after me.” The Complainant was heard screaming inaudible words and slurring her speech in the background of the audio recording. She frequently attempted to take the telephone from CW #1 and yelled, “Tell my mom to put the phone down. I’ve been trying to talk kindly since 6:00. She’s been going crazy.” CW #1 told the dispatcher, “She keeps beating me up.”

The dispatcher attempted to speak with the Complainant about what had occurred earlier in the day. CW #1 stated, “Have the police come through my front door because she may have knives. She has mental health issues. When she gets drunk she gets very abusive.” CW #1 learned shortly after that the Complainant had a butcher knife and was inside the powder room on the main floor. She reiterated the information to the dispatcher. The OPS dispatcher responded, “One of the officers is there upstairs in the house. Do you see him? Stay outside till a police officer comes and gets you.”

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPS:
  • Call Hardcopy;
  • General Occurrence;
  • Investigative Action-WO #5;
  • List of Involved Officers;
  • Notes of all witness officers;
  • Policy - Arrest;
  • Policy - Use of Force;
  • Use of Force Training dates; and
  • Witness list.

Incident Narrative

The facts are clear on the information gathered by the SIU, which included statements from the subject and witness officers, the Complainant, and the Complainant’s friend (CW #2) and mother (CW #1), who were also present in and around the scene of the arrest. At about 7:00 p.m., the SO, together with WO #4 and WO #5, arrived at an address in Orléans, Ottawa, following a 911 call made by the Complainant’s mother, CW #1. CW #1 had called to report that her daughter was inebriated, and had taken to assaulting her and damaging property in the backyard of the home. As the officers were en route to the scene, CW #1 further advised that the Complainant had locked herself in a bathroom with a knife.

WO #5 was the first to enter the home. He directed the Complainant, who was belligerent, to sit on the sofa in the family room, which she did. Together with WO #4, the officers tried speaking with her to calm her down. The SO, who had been speaking with CW #1 in the backyard, soon joined the other officers, entering the house from the rear through a patio door that opened into the kitchen. He too attempted to speak with the Complainant, but she was not interested. The Complainant stood up at one point and indicated she was going to speak with her mother in the backyard. The SO, who was standing in the hallway between the family room and kitchen, blocked her path and directed her to sit down again. She complied, but only for a short while. A few minutes later, the Complainant got up again and walked quickly toward the kitchen with her arms crossed in front of her chest and her hands clenched. She ran into the SO’s right side and was taken to the ground by the officer, whereupon the SO and WO #5 handcuffed her hands behind her back.

While in the SO’s cruiser on the way to the police station, the Complainant complained that her shoulder hurt. The officer decided to take her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a fractured left clavicle.

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 inside her home by OPS officers in the evening of July 21, 2018 following a brief physical confrontation with the SO. Shortly after her arrest, the Complainant was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a fractured left clavicle. For the reasons that follow, I am satisfied that the SO did not commit a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s arrest and injury.

Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, police officers may only use such force as is reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they are required or authorized to do by law. The SO and the other officers were lawfully inside the home, having been asked to attend the residence by CW #1 to deal with the Complainant. The Complainant, despite the officers’ best efforts to de-escalate the situation, bumped into the SO with intent in an effort to move past him. At that point, there were reasonable grounds, in my view, to arrest the Complainant for assault. The SO took hold of the Complainant’s right arm, as she made contact with him, and brought her down. Thereafter, the SO and WO #5 quickly handcuffed the Complainant without further incident. On this record, I am satisfied that the force used by the SO fell within the range of what was reasonably necessary in the circumstances to meet the Complainant’s violence and effect her arrest. In the result, while it may well be that the grounding broke the Complainant’s clavicle [1], there are no grounds to proceed with criminal charges against the SO and the file is closed.


Date: August 19, 2019



Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit

Footnotes

  • 1) There is evidence to suggest that the Complainant’s injury may have also resulted from the physical altercation she had with her mother prior to the officer’s arrival at the home. [Back to text]