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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-PCI-337

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 43-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On November 19, 2018, at 6:56 a.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) notified the SIU that the Complainant had suffered an injury.

According to the OPP, OPP officers responded to a single vehicle collision just outside of Erin on November 18, 2018, at 7:20 p.m. The OPP officers located the Complainant in the area of the collision but were unable at the time to establish he was the driver of the involved vehicle. The Complainant was highly intoxicated and was examined by paramedics at the scene, but he refused treatment. The Complainant was arrested for public intoxication and lodged in OPP cells. At 1:00 a.m., on November 19, 2018, the Complainant complained of not feeling well. He was taken to the Guelph General Hospital. The Complainant was issued a Provincial Offence Notice and was released from custody while at the hospital.

The hospital later contacted the OPP after it was determined the Complainant had suffered two fractured ribs.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 5

Complainant:

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


Civilian Witnesses

CW Interviewed 

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed


Police Employee Witnesses

PEW Interviewed


Subject Officers

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


Evidence

Communications Recordings

On November 18, 2018 at 7:19 p.m., someone called 911 to report there was a truck flipped over in a ditch on Erin County Road 22. The 911 caller reported he did not witness the incident. He also reported the driver of the truck was out of the vehicle and was walking around. The caller described the driver (the Complainant) as appearing to be “a little out of it.” The caller could then be heard yelling to the Complainant that he should not walk out onto the roadway. The caller told the 911 call-taker that the Complainant appeared to be “hammered.” The caller then started to explain to another motorist that the driver of the truck in the ditch had wandered away and he appeared to be drunk. The caller told the call-taker that the Complainant was lying in a ditch when he arrived on scene. As he was lying in the ditch, the Complainant had asked the caller why he, the caller, was upside down. The Complainant then stood up and ran across the road. The Complainant was wearing coveralls with fluorescent reflective surfaces.

The motorist who arrived on scene after the caller was equipped with a flashlight, and he told him the driver of the pickup truck appeared to be “wasted.” The motorist with the flashlight also told the caller there was blood on the ground.

The 911 caller then reported the police were arriving.

An OPP unit containing the SO and WO #1 reported they were on scene and understood the driver had taken off on foot into a field. They then reported they saw the Complainant in a field and they soon reported they had him under arrest for public intoxication, until they confirmed he had been behind the wheel of the flipped vehicle. The SO and WO #1 later reported they were unable to determine the time of the incident so they could not place the Complainant behind the wheel of the vehicle.

On November 19, 2019 at 12:50 a.m., WO #1 told the communications centre there was a guy in cells complaining of sore ribs. WO #1 was put through to the ambulance dispatcher and he told the ambulance dispatcher the individual had been in a roll-over incident earlier in the evening and had refused treatment at the scene.

WO #1 then spoke to WO #2 on the telephone and reported that initially the Complainant had signed off from being treated (at the scene) but he had since sobered and was complaining of rib pains. WO #1 told WO #2 the injuries had nothing to do with them [he and the SO], the injuries were all related to the collision.

At 4:33 a.m., WO #1 was called by the communications centre for an update. He reported the OPP had released the Complainant from custody, as there was going to be a delay in having him examined at the hospital.

WO #1 later called WO #2 and reported he had attended the hospital and learned the Complainant had suffered two broken ribs.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP:
  • The communications recordings;
  • Custody area video recordings;
  • Arrest Report – the Complainant;
  • CAD-Event Details (x2);
  • List of Involved Officers;
  • Copies of a civilian witness statement from the 911 caller;
  • Notes of WO #1, WO #2 and the PEW; and
  • Prisoner Sheets – the Complainant.

Incident Narrative

The following, as far as it goes, seems clear on the information collected by the SIU. At about 7:20 p.m., of November 18, 2018, a 911 call was made by a motorist reporting that he had come across a pickup truck in the ditch of Wellington Road 22 in Erin, Ontario. The caller also indicated that a man – the Complainant – was in the vicinity of the truck and appeared inebriated. The SO and WO #1 arrived in the area and located the Complainant across the road in a field. The Complainant was sitting on the ground in the snow. Because he smelled of alcohol, slurred his speech and had glossy eyes, the officers concluded that he was intoxicated and arrested him for public intoxication.

Paramedics also arrived at the scene of the accident. The Complainant was placed in the back of the ambulance but he refused medical treatment or to be taken to the hospital. The Complainant was placed in the SO and WO #1’s cruiser and taken back to the OPP detachment, where he was lodged in a cell.

The next day at about 1:00 a.m., a civilian guard who had been monitoring the Complainant in his cell contacted WO #1 to tell him the Complainant was complaining of sore ribs. An ambulance was called and arrived at the detachment at about 1:15 a.m. The Complainant was taken to hospital where his broken ribs were diagnosed.

Relevant Legislation

Section 31(4), Liquor Licence Act -- Intoxicated in a public place

31 (4) No person shall be in an intoxicated condition,
(a) In a place to which the general public is invited or permitted access; or

Section 31(5), Liquor Licence Act -- Arrest without warrant 

31 (5) A police officer may arrest without warrant any person whom he or she finds contravening subsection (4) if, in the opinion of the police officer, to do so is necessary for the safety of any person.  

Analysis and Director's Decision

Following a brief stay in police cells in November 2018, the Complainant was taken to hospital and treated for fractured ribs. The cause of his injuries is somewhat of a mystery. He was in police cells at the time having been arrested by the subject officer (the “SO”) for public intoxication under the Liquor Licence Act (LLA). For the reasons that follow, there are no grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s arrest and injuries.

There is no indication on the record of any untoward conduct on the part of the SO and WO #1 in relation to the Complainant. I am satisfied that the officers had a reasonable basis to proceed with the Complainant’s arrest under the LLA. The Complainant had appeared impaired by alcohol to the motorist who had happened upon him, and the circumstances in which the officers located the Complainant would have only reinforced that notion. Left in that condition, the Complainant’s safety was clearly at risk. I accept that his arrest was therefore legal. The evidence further suggests that the arrest was executed without incident and without need for the application of any force by the officers. Thereafter, throughout the Complainant’s time in custody, the evidence indicates the officers treated him with full regard for his heath and safety. The Complainant was examined by paramedics at the scene, closely monitored while he was in a police cell, and promptly taken to hospital as soon as he complained of soreness.

In the final analysis, there is simply no evidence to establish that the Complainant’s injuries are the result of any unlawful conduct on the part of the SO. Accordingly, there are no grounds for proceeding with charges in this case and the file is closed.


Date: September 13, 2019



Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit