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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-OCI-361

Contents:

News Releases for this Case:

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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 to a 44-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On December 15, 2018, at 11:13 p.m., the York Regional Police (YRP) reported to the SIU that at 10:00 a.m., that date, police officers responded to an incident in which the Complainant pointed a gun at his mother. He was arrested, taken to 2 District Headquarters, and placed into a cell. The Complainant punched the cell bars. At 5:15 p.m., a Staff Sergeant checked on the Complainant and noticed his hands were swollen. He was taken to Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital and diagnosed with a broken bone in his hand.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
 

Complainant:

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


Civilian Witnesses

CW Interviewed

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO #1 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right
SO #2 Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right.


Evidence

The Scene

There were two scenes of interest. The first was located at the front doorway of the Complainant’s residence in Richmond Hill. The second was the bullpen located inside the YRP 2 District Headquarters.

YRP captured photographs of the residence for their criminal investigation and additional photographs were taken of WO #1’s police vehicle for the SIU investigation, all of which did not contain any content that would further the investigation.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


YRP In-Car Camera System (ICCS)


WO #1’s Police Vehicle: At 11:41:00 a.m., SO #1, SO #2 and WO #2 moved towards the front of the Complainant’s residence out of camera view. WO #1 maintained cover from the front of his police vehicle then moved to the front of a green vehicle that was on the driveway of the residence. At 11:41:47 a.m., SO #1 broadcast that the Complainant was in custody.

At 11:42:14 a.m., WO #1 entered his police vehicle and reversed into the driveway of the residence. At 11:42:57 a.m., the rear passenger door was opened where the Complainant, handcuffed with his hands to the front and seated in an assisted walker, could be seen with his hands raised above his head while he was being searched by police officers. The Complainant was calm and compliant. He was lifted into the rear of the police vehicle by SO #1 and SO #2.

At 11:43:40 a.m., a Special Response Unit (SRU) tactical paramedic [now known to be the CW] from York Region Paramedic Services attended the driveway, but did not assess the Complainant, and left at 11:44:30 a.m.

At 11:44:08 a.m., SO #2 removed a leather bracelet from the Complainant’s right hand. At that same time, the Complainant said, “That one’s a little backwards,” referring to one of the handcuffs, and SO #2 replied, “That’s okay.” SO #2 then inspected the handcuffs and the Complainant’s wrists whereby SO #2 was able to move and turn the handcuff around the Complainant’s left wrist without issue. The Complainant said, “That was awesome man.” SO #2 asked the Complainant if he preferred his hands to the rear to which the Complainant replied, “Whatever you choose to do.”

The police officers decided amongst each other that the Complainant would be left handcuffed to the front to assist him with stabilization during transport. SO #2 told another police officer that he checked the bracelets and rings, and there was nothing there. At 11:48:21 a.m., WO #3 attended, spoke with the Complainant, and thanked him for cooperating. The Complainant sat quietly and made no complaints to any police officer.

At 11:48:56 a.m., WO #1 read the Complainant his rights to counsel then informed him that he was arrested for assault with a weapon and weapons dangerous. The Complainant immediately became angry, used profane language, and adamantly denied assaulting anyone with a weapon. The Complainant continued to shout and threaten WO #1. WO #1 began transport at 11:52:23 a.m. and arrived at 2 District Headquarters at 12:01:41 p.m.


YRP Booking and Cell Video


Throughout the booking process the Complainant shouted vulgarities and nonsensical threats at WO #1, WO #5, SO #2 and an undesignated officer. WO #5 made multiple attempts to ask the Complainant standard booking questions but he was uncooperative, spoke over her and would not answer any questions. That behaviour, without exception, was prevalent throughout his entire stay within the holding cells.

At 12:11:46 p.m., SO #2 removed jewellery from the Complainant’s left hand, while still handcuffed, and he (the Complainant) made no complaints nor did he wince in pain. At 12:13:19 p.m., WO #5 adjusted the handcuff around the Complainant’s left wrist and he was wheeled into a large bullpen alone at 12:16:26 p.m. The bullpen door was constructed of metal bars set in a thick metal frame.

At 12:38:21 p.m., WO #5 approached the bullpen and told the Complainant that the handcuffs were going to be removed but he shouted, “Fuck off,” numerous times and acted in a belligerent manner; the handcuffs were not removed.

At 1:01:36 p.m., the Complainant, who was irate, wheeled himself to the bullpen bars, raised both arms, and struck the inner surface of the metal frame with the outer edge of both his hands/wrists with closed fists at least 80 times with great force and speed. He then carried on as if he was uninjured, laughed and pointed to the camera with his left hand saying, “Bring it on.”

At 1:14:56 p.m., the Complainant again raised both arms and struck the inner surface of the metal frame with the outer edge of both his hands/wrists three times. He then turned his hands so the top of his right hand and inner left wrist struck the metal frame 15 times. He then continued to carry on as if he was uninjured while grabbing the bars with both hands shouting nonsensical obscenities. At no time did the Complainant appear to be injured, favour any hand or wince in pain following the strikes to the metal frame.

At 2:31:31 p.m., the Complainant told two police officers present to leave the area when they offered a telephone call with duty counsel. At 4:22 p.m., he shouted several times for the handcuffs to be removed.

At 5:04:53 p.m., WO #6 attended the bullpen and removed the Complainant’s handcuffs through the bars. The Complainant presented his wrists to WO #6 then requested to be taken to the hospital. WO #6 explained he would contact the paramedic service.

At 5:07:24 p.m., WO #6 re-attended the bullpen area where the Complainant again complained that his handcuffs should have been removed hours ago as he was alone inside. WO #6 asked how the injury to his left hand was sustained to which the Complainant replied, “I don’t even know, I have no idea, I was upset… (inaudible)…I was enraged…(inaudible)…I didn’t punch nothing…(inaudible).”

At 5:19:05 p.m., while alone, the Complainant looked at his left wrist and while speaking aloud said, “I don’t know how this hand got broken, my hand is so numb…(inaudible).” At 5:28:03 p.m., the Complainant was taken to the hospital by paramedics and returned at 12:03:09 a.m. on December 16, 2018 with a casted left hand.


Photographs from Civilian Witness


A civilian witness provided the SIU with two digital images from his Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system of police officers providing containment in the area of the residence. These images did not contain any content that would further the investigation.

Police Communications Recordings


YRP 911 Communications Recordings


On December 15, 2018, at 10:12:06 a.m., a woman requested the police attend her residence in Richmond Hill. The woman, calling from the Richmond Hill Library, reported her son, the Complainant, pointed a black handgun at her from inside the garage and she was unable to enter her residence. She tried to enter her residence a second time, but the Complainant then stood at a window, left of the front door, and again pointed the gun at her. The Complainant was alone in the residence.

The 911 caller explained she initially left the residence earlier because the Complainant had threatened her then she returned later hoping he would be in a better mood, but was not. He had threatened her before, though never with a gun. She said that the Complainant lived with a mental health disorder and threatened her life because of things that occurred in the past. The Complainant took prescription medication that was not to be mixed with alcohol, although the night prior he consumed liquor. The Complainant’s mood changes when he mixes prescription medication and alcohol. She did not know if he consumed liquor that present day, but he may have consumed drugs.


YRP Communications Recordings


At 11:01:37 a.m., WO #4 transmitted that the Complainant was being spoken to on the telephone and a surrender plan was being discussed. Soon after, WO #4 provided an update over the radio that the Complainant would be surrendering shortly and required a few minutes to prepare because of his disabilities.

At 11:39:11 a.m., WO #4 broadcasted that the Complainant was at the front door. At 11:39:27 a.m., WO #2 radioed that the Complainant’s hands were in the air, but he was unable to exit his residence as he was in a wheelchair. WO #4 authorized the arrest team to approach in order to assist the Complainant only if his hands were in full view.

At 11:41:47 a.m., SO #1 reported that the Complainant was in custody. WO #1 then transmitted that the Complainant was handcuffed and for all other police officers to stand-by. WO #4 reported that the paramedic service was on scene to quickly assess the Complainant.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the YRP:
  • Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Report;
  • Communication Recordings;
  • Cell and Booking Video;
  • Detailed Call Summary-YRP Occurrence;
  • Duty Roster (x2);
  • General Occurrence Report;
  • Historical Occurrence Reports;
  • Initial Occurrence Report;
  • ICCS Videos;
  • List of Involved Officers;
  • Procedure-Processing the Offender;
  • Procedure-Use Of Force;
  • Procedure-Prisoner Care and Control and Prisoner Transport;
  • Procedure-Emotionally Disturbed Persons;
  • Procedure-In-Car Camera System (ICCS);
  • Notes of all witness officers;
  • Training Records-SO #1 and SO #2;
  • YRP CPIC-the Complainant;
  • YRP Forensic Investigation Unit (FIS) Photographs;
  • YRP Flag Record;
  • YRP Known Offender Record;
  • YRP Supplemental Report-Statement of Civilian Witness; and
  • YRP Video Statement of Civilian Witness.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are apparent on the evidence collected by the SIU in its investigation, which included statements from the Complainant, one of the subject officers and a number of witness officers with information about the arrest. The investigation also benefitted from the police cell video, which captured the Complainant’s period in custody. Shortly after 10:00 a.m. on December 15, 2018, the Complainant’s mother placed a 911 call to police to report that her son had threatened and pointed a firearm at her from inside their residence in Richmond Hill, prompting her to seek refuge at a library. Police officers rushed to the scene and set up containment around the residence, a detached two-story home. Among the officers involved in the operation were SO #1, SO #2 and WO #2. A command post was established some distance from the residence and contact was made with the Complainant over the phone. In time, the Complainant agreed he would surrender peacefully.

At about 11:30 a.m., the Complainant opened the front door of his residence and put his arms up in the air. With the accompaniment of WO #2, armed with a C8 rifle, SO #1 and SO #2 approached the Complainant and placed him in handcuffs to the front. As the Complainant could not walk without the aid of his walker, the officers assisted him down the stairs of the home onto the driveway and into the backseat of a waiting police cruiser. Once inside the cruiser and informed of the charges that would be levied against him by WO #1, the Complainant became irate and threatened the officer. His ire continued unabated through the trip to the police station.

Arriving at the station at about 12:00 p.m., the Complainant refused to answer any of the standard questions while being booked and instead spewed vulgarities and threats at the booking officer, WO #5. At about 12:15 p.m., he was placed in the bullpen cell. There he remained until about 5:30 p.m., when paramedics arrived at the station and transported him to hospital. During his time in custody, the Complainant repeatedly and forcefully struck the metal frame of his cell with the outer edge of his handcuffed hands and wrists.

Analysis and Director's Decision

The Complainant was arrested by YRP officers in the morning of December 15, 2018 following a brief standoff at his residence in Richmond Hill. He was lodged in cells and subsequently taken to hospital when an officer noticed swelling over the knuckles of his left hand. At hospital, the Complainant was diagnosed with a fracture in his hand. Two of the arresting officers, SO #1 and SO #2, were identified as subject officers in the SIU’s investigation. For the reasons that follow, there are no grounds to believe that either officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s arrest and injury.

It is evident that the Complainant likely fractured his left hand when he banged it multiple times on the metal frame of the cell that was housing him. It is further evident, in my view, that none of the officers who had dealings with the Complainant, including the subject officers, contributed to the Complainant’s self-inflicted injury in any way that could attract criminal liability. It probably did not help matters that the Complainant was handcuffed throughout his period in custody at the police station, but he has only himself to blame for that. The booking officer gave thought to removing the handcuffs from the Complainant, as would ordinarily occur when one is lodged in cells, but decided against it, reasonably in my view, given his belligerent and threatening behaviour. Thereafter, the same officer, WO #5, met with the Complainant in his cell and offered to remove the handcuffs. She left the area after the Complainant proved unreceptive. The handcuffs were finally removed by WO #6, who had replaced WO #5 on his shift, at about 5:00 p.m. It was shortly thereafter that the Complainant was taken to hospital. On this record, it certainly cannot be said that the Complainant’s injury was in any way caused or worsened by a criminal want of care on the part of his custodians. As for the subject officers’ dealings with the Complainant at the arrest scene, the evidence indicates that SO #1 and SO #2 handcuffed and assisted him into WO #1’s cruiser without incident. There is no question, it should be noted, around the lawfulness of the Complainant’s arrest. In the result, there are no grounds for proceeding with charges against any police officer in this case, and the file is closed.


Date: September 23, 2019

Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit