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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-PCI-294

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 a serious injury sustained by a 44-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On October 2, 2018 at 1:05 p.m. the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) notified the SIU of the Complainant’s injury.

The OPP reported that OPP officers were in the city of Elliot Lake to locate and arrest the Complainant for home invasions. Officers arrived at a residence in Elliot Lake at 11:15 a.m. The Complainant ran from the residence and went out of sight. Sometime later the officers received information that the Complainant returned to the residence. When the officers arrived they located the Complainant with an obvious broken leg.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
 

Complainant:

44-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 

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed


Subject Officers

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


Evidence

The Scene

The scene was a driveway and residence in Elliot Lake.

Communications Recordings

There were no recorded radio transmissions from the involved police officers.

WO #1 reported the incident by contacting an officer at the OPP Communications Center by cellular telephone. The telephone call was recorded. WO #1 reported that police officers were looking for the Complainant and a police officer located him in company of a second male. When the police officer identified himself and attempted to place the Complainant under arrest, the Complainant ran away jumping from a retaining wall. The Complainant was later located and transported to the hospital.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP:
  • Arrest Report – the Complainant;
  • Communication recording;
  • Community Street Crime Unit Duty Roster (redacted);
  • Event Details;
  • Elliot Lake Police Service (ELPS) Occur Person-the Complainant;
  • Espanola (EPS) Occur Person-the Complainant;
  • Barrie PS Occur Person-the Complainant;
  • Belleville PS Occur Person-the Complainant;
  • Greater Sudbury Police Service (GSPS) Occur Person-the Complainant;
  • North Bay (NBPS) Occur Person-the Complainant;
  • West Nipissing Police Service (WNPS) Occur Person-the Complainant;
  • Sault Ste Marie Police Service (SSMPS) Occur Person-the Complainant;
  • Notes of all witness officers;
  • Ontario Municipal and Provincial Police Automation Co-Operative (OMPPAC) Occur Person-the Complainant (x2);
  • OPP Occur Person-the Complainant;
  • Training Record-the SO.

Incident Narrative

The circumstances surrounding the Complainant’s injury are evident on the weight of the reliable evidence collected by the SIU in its investigation. In the morning of the day in question, the Complainant, in the company of CW #1, was walking on Amsterdam Road. At the same moment, the SO had been on the lookout for the Complainant. The officer was part of an operation seeking to arrest the Complainant for several offences, including a couple of instances of break and enter.

The SO located the Complainant on Amsterdam Road and proceeded to maneuver his unmarked van across the crosswalk at Edinburgh Road in front of the Complainant’s path. As the officer exited from the driver’s door and attempted to apprehend the Complainant, the Complainant threw a case of nutritional supplement beverages he had been carrying and ran around the front of the van continuing west on the south side of Amsterdam Road. The SO gave thought to giving chase, but struck a stop sign pole as he turned to follow the Complainant, lost his glasses in the process, and decided to deal with CW #1 instead, detaining him briefly in handcuffs. Meanwhile, the Complainant fled toward CW #1’s residence nearby, jumped down a retaining wall, and injured his leg in the process.

Other officers soon arrived at the intersection of Amsterdam and Edinburgh Roads. The SO directed them to CW #1’s residence, where a passing motorist had seen the Complainant take refuge. The Complainant was located inside the rear patio door on the floor of the kitchen in pain; his leg injury was apparent. The officers called for an ambulance, which took the Complainant to hospital.

Analysis and Director's Decision

On October 2, 2018, the Complainant fractured his right leg while running away from a police officer intending to arrest him. The police officer was the SO. 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 Complainant’s injury.

There is some evidence pinning the blame for the Complainant’s injury on the SO, indicating he chased the Complainant, forced him to the floor and threatened him with his (the officer’s) firearm. I discount this evidence in its entirety as it is simply unworthy of belief. On the accounts of all the other witnesses, the SO was not the first officer to enter the kitchen; he had quickly aborted his foot pursuit of the Complainant and was outside dealing with CW #1 when other officers arrived and made their way to the residence.

The SO was attempting to arrest the Complainant but was unable to even lay a hand on him. At the sight of the officer, the Complainant, perhaps thinking he was being accosted by a civilian looking to do him harm, [1] ran from the officer and broke his right leg when he jumped from a retaining wall in full flight and landed some distance on the ground below. On this record, I am satisfied that the Complainant is the author of his own misfortune and that the SO neither caused nor contributed to the Complainant’s self-inflicted injury in any manner that could attract criminal liability. Accordingly, the file is closed.


Date: September 6, 2019


Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit

Footnotes

  • 1) The SO was working in plain clothes at the time and operating an unmarked police van. While the officer claims he announced his status as a “police officer” as he exited the van, there is discrepancy in the evidence as to whether he did so. I am satisfied that in the circumstance of this case, the discrepancy is of no consequence in terms of the officer’s potential criminal liability. [Back to text]