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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-OCI-342

Contents:

News Releases for this Case:

French:

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 20-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On December 1, 2018 at 2:40 a.m., the Peterborough Police Service (PPS) contacted the SIU and relayed the following. On December 1, 2018 at about 2:00 a.m., police attended a residence on Dublin Street, Peterborough in relation to a domestic disturbance.

Upon police arrival, they located the Complainant inside armed with a knife (the Complainant had stabbed his mother). Officers deployed a CEW and pepper spray in an effort to take the Complainant into custody. The Complainant subsequently stabbed himself in the throat. Officers were able to take control of the Complainant at which time he was transported to Peterborough Regional Health Center with serious injuries. 

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2

Complainant:

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


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
WO #7 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed


Subject Officers

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


Evidence

The Scene

At 7:20 a.m., the SIU forensic investigators arrived at the residence on Dublin Street. Scene examination identified bloodstains visible on the sidewalk and on the concrete stairs. Security tape was strung across the main door leading to the interior. An officer was outside apartment #3. Part of the second floor was cordoned off with security tape. There was a blood pool on the carpeted floor.

The blood on the sidewalk and second floor hallway was from stab wounds to the Complainant’s stomach and neck area.

Forensic Evidence

A CEW was deployed by the SO but it failed and started to click. The SIU seized the device. It was tested and found to be malfunctioning.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the PPS:
  • CEW Download;
  • Event Details;
  • Notes of WO #1, WO #2, WO #3, WO #4, WO #5 and WO #7;
  • Occurrences (Complainant’s Niche Occurrences); and
  • PPS Media Release.

Incident Narrative

The events in question are relatively clear on the evidence collected by the SIU notwithstanding the SO’s decision to remain silent (as was his right), thanks to the statements obtained from the civilian and police witnesses. Shortly before 2:00 a.m. of December 1, 2018, the PPS received a 911 call from the residence on Dublin Street. CW #2 reported that her son, the Complainant, had stabbed her with a knife.

WO #6 was the first officer to arrive at the scene. He made his way up to the second floor of the address on Dublin Street, and encountered a bloodied CW #1. While still at the doorway of the apartment, the officer noticed the Complainant with a knife in his left hand. Ignoring WO #6’s instruction that he drop the knife, the Complainant advanced toward the officer. As he neared to within a couple of feet, WO #6 kicked the Complainant in the stomach with the intention of creating some more distance between them. With the Complainant now some eight feet away, WO #6 drew his pepper spray and noticed that the SO, with a CEW in hand, had arrived. When the Complainant threatened to stab himself, the SO discharged his weapon. It malfunctioned, and the Complainant proceeded to stab himself twice in the neck, at which point WO #6 deployed his pepper spray. The Complainant fell to the floor and was handcuffed by WO #6 and WO #7 without further incident, the latter just arriving at the scene.

Following his arrest, the Complainant was immediately transported to hospital by paramedics.

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 by PPS officers in the early morning of December 1, 2018. Following his arrest, he was taken to hospital and diagnosed with serious injuries. The SO, among the arresting officers, was designated a subject officer. For the reasons that follow, I am satisfied there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s arrest and injuries.

Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, police officers are immune from criminal liability for force used in the course of their duties provided such force is no more than is reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they are required or authorized to do by law. Based on the information at their disposal, the officers had reasonable grounds to believe that the Complainant had just attacked his mother, CW #2, with a knife. They were clearly within their rights in seeking to arrest him. Thereafter, I am satisfied that the force the officers used in effecting their purpose fell well within the range of what was reasonably necessary. In fact, confronted by an individual in possession of a knife, whom he had every reason to believe had just attacked and stabbed his mother with it, WO #6 showed incredible restraint as the Complainant ignored his commands and neared to within an arm’s length of the officer. Confronted by a potentially lethal threat, the kick WO #6 delivered can only be described as a modest use of force in the circumstances, and no more than was reasonably necessary to protect the officer as he endeavoured to take the Complainant into custody. I am further satisfied that the attempted CEW discharge, which failed, and the use of pepper spray, fell within the limits prescribed by the criminal law. It seems to me that the officers were as much concerned with preventing the Complainant harming himself as they were about defending themselves when these weapons were deployed; the Complainant was threatening to harm himself and then did in fact stab himself with the knife at the time. Indeed, there is reason to believe that the pepper spray, which appeared to immediately incapacitate the Complainant, was successful in preventing the Complainant from doing more harm to himself.

In the final analysis, the evidence establishes that the officers acted professionally and reasonably at all times in their dealings with the Complainant, potentially averting greater harm coming to CW #2 and her son, CW #1, and, indeed, the Complainant himself. Consequently, as I am satisfied the force they used was legally justified, I have no reason to believe that there are grounds to charge either officer in relation to the Complainant’s self-inflicted wounds. The file is therefore closed.


Date: October 7, 2019

Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit