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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-OCI-281

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 75-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On September 17, 2018, at 6:29 p.m., the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) notified the SIU of their involvement in an injury to the Complainant. On September 17, 2018, at approximately 1:40 p.m., the Complainant was southbound on St. Laurent Boulevard in the city of Ottawa. At the time, he was operating his E-Bike and was alone. When he arrived at the intersection of St. Laurent Boulevard and Donald Street, he was directed to stop by a uniform member of the OPS who was in the middle of the intersection, directing traffic. The police officer was present because of work that was underway on the traffic signals.

A short time later, the Complainant and other southbound drivers were directed by the police officer to continue through the intersection and continue southbound. As he approached the midpoint of the intersection, the Complainant was struck on his right side by a motor vehicle that entered the intersection traveling eastbound on Donald Street.

As a result of the collision, the Complainant suffered serious injuries that required hospitalization and subsequent surgery. 
 

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1

Complainant:

75-year-old male 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 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed

WO #1 and WO #2 were designated for their notes only. A review of their notes indicated that neither was present when the collision occurred.


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed


Evidence

The Scene

St. Laurent Boulevard consists of multiple lanes for north and southbound traffic. Donald Street consists of multiple lanes for east and westbound traffic. It was Monday and noon hour traffic was heavy. Congestion on both roads was exacerbated by the ongoing traffic light repairs.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPS:
  • Civilian Witness List;
  • Detailed Call Summary;
  • Investigative Action-WO #1 and WO #2;
  • MVC Report;
  • Notes of all witness officers and the subject officer;
  • Person Hardcopy – the Complainant; and
  • Witness Statement of CW #1, CW #2 and three additional civilian witnesses.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question may be summarized in short order. The Complainant was traveling south on St. Laurent Boulevard on his E-Bike when he came to a stop at Donald Street. Repair work was being conducted on the traffic control lights, which were out at the time, and traffic at the intersection was being directed by the SO. At the SO’s signal, southbound traffic, led by the Complainant, began to make its way into the intersection. The Complainant entered the intersection and was struck by a vehicle traveling east. The SO and others rushed to render assistance to the Complainant, including an off-duty paramedic. An ambulance arrived and transported the Complainant to hospital, where he was treated for his injuries.

Relevant Legislation

Sections 219 and 221, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing bodily harm

219 (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
(a) in doing anything, or
(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.

(2) For the purposes of this section, duty means a duty imposed by law.

221 Every one who by criminal negligence causes bodily harm to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years

Analysis and Director's Decision

At about 12:35 p.m. of September 17, 2018, the Complainant, while riding his E-Bike, was struck by a vehicle and suffered serious injuries as a result. The collision occurred in the intersection of St. Laurent Boulevard and Donald Street in Ottawa, at which a paid-duty officer – the SO – was directing traffic at the time. For the reasons that follow, there are no reasonable grounds in my view to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the accident.

The offence that arises for consideration is criminal negligence causing bodily harm contrary to section 221 of the Criminal Code. The offence is predicated, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked and substantial departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. There is no indication that the SO, or either of the two other paid-duty OPS officers who were assisting with traffic control through the intersection that day, had been anything other than careful in their duties prior to the collision. And other motorists at the intersection, but for the driver of the vehicle that struck the Complainant, all seemed to have been aware of what was going on at the time, namely, that east and west traffic had been directed to stop to allow south and north traffic to proceed. The evidence does suggest that the SO had his back to the eastbound lanes of traffic at the time and therefore did not see the vehicle as it approached and entered the intersection; it seems he was busy controlling traffic in other directions at the time. Might the SO have done more to prevent the flow of eastbound traffic? Perhaps, but he was also entitled to expect that approaching motorists would notice the traffic signals were not functioning and pay heed to the officer directing traffic in the intersection. On this record, there are no reasonable grounds to conclude that the SO transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. Accordingly, as there are no grounds to proceed with criminal charges in this matter, the file is closed.


Date: September 6, 2019

Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit