Cruiser accidentRunnersCruiser and motorbike
thick blue gradient line

SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-TCD-098

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 the death of a 29-year-old male (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On May 4, 2019, at 12:00 p.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) reported a death that occurred that morning. The TPS reported that at 11:08 a.m., police responded to Chalkfarm Drive regarding a suicidal male, later identified as the Complainant, who was hanging from a balcony. Prior to police officers arriving, residents of a neighbouring apartment were able to talk the man from the balcony; however, he returned to the balcony when police officers arrived. While police officers were speaking to the man he let go and fell several storeys. He was transported to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre where he was pronounced dead.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned:
 
Three SIU investigators and two forensic investigators (FIs) were assigned and launched an investigation, arriving at 31 Division station at 1:30 p.m. A fourth investigator was assigned in the course of the investigation.

The apartment and exterior ground level scenes were examined and photographs and measurements were taken. Findings from the post-mortem examination are detailed later in this report.

Complainant:

29-year-old male, deceased


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed 

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO Declined interview, as is the subject officer’s legal right. Notes received and reviewed.


Evidence

The Scene

The scene included a 16th floor apartment on Chalkfarm Drive. SIU FIs examination revealed the apartment’s balcony door in the living room had been permanently secured closed as if the locking mechanism had been removed. However, a bedroom window directly accessed the balcony. The sliding window pane and screen had been removed, exposing an opening that measured 0.487 metres wide.

Examination of a 14th balcony, two storeys directly below, revealed the top of the railing was 36.95 metres above the ground area where the Complainant came to rest.

The ground level scene where the Complainant came to rest was sod covered ground with what appeared to be blood staining and medical treatment material scattered about the area.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

The in-car camera system (ICCS), activated in the SO’s cruiser, captured sporadic audio recordings due to the distance between the cruiser and the police officers, who were several floors up and on the opposite side of the building.

From 11:17:00 a.m. until 11:25:40 a.m., the SO’s microphone recorded sporadic utterances, including the SO saying, “Come in. Remember last time I gave you all the food,” “Why don’t you come in, okay?” “We don’t want to see you do this,” “Stay and talk to me, okay?” and, “I helped you last time, I’ll help you again.” A faint voice was recorded saying, “I’m scared about that happening. Do you know what I mean?” The SO also said, “I’ve met you and I know you don’t want to do this and I know that. Come on,” “I want you to talk to me okay? What happened today?” and “Come on, talk to me man.”

At 11:25:40 a.m., a man’s scream was recorded along with faint female screams in the background.

At 11:34:50 a.m., the SO and WO #2 entered the cruiser. The microphones were no longer active as they drove to another area of the building. At 11:45:14 a.m., the audio was activated. At 11:48:17 a.m., a male voice [believed to be WO #1] was heard asking the SO if he was okay, to which he responded, “Yeah.” They spoke about which apartment occupants saw the Complainant, and WO #1 advised the police officers the SIU would investigate.

The microphone from WO #1’s ICCS was switched off, but the in-car equipment captured the radio communication transmissions.


Police Communications Recordings

In the radio transmission recordings the SO was heard asking WO #1 if he wanted them to wait for additional police officers before engaging the Complainant. WO #1 confirmed as “last time it took three of us to wrestle him back in. I don’t want him to make a break for it as soon as he sees a uniform.”

At 11:15 a.m., the dispatcher reported the Complainant was hanging by his hands. Shortly thereafter, the SO reported they were in an apartment and saw the Complainant hanging from the balcony above.

At 11:18:42 a.m., WO #2 radioed that they were still talking to the Complainant, who was still hanging from the balcony.

At 11:19:15 a.m., WO #2 asked WO #1 to attend the floor.

At 11:21:28 a.m., WO #1 radioed that the Complainant was still hanging off the balcony with officers trying to talk to him.

As police officers attempted to arrange crisis intervention staff to attend, at 11:23:40 a.m., WO #1 radioed, “We might be getting some interference from the people on one of the floors, so I’m going to go up a level.”

At 11:24:12 a.m., Toronto Fire Services arrived on scene.

At 11:25:04 a.m., WO #1 radioed that they were all good as paramedics were also on scene.

At 11:25:50 a.m., WO #1 radioed the Complainant jumped and was on the ground.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
  • Communications recordings;
  • ICCS recordings;
  • Intergraph Computer-Aided Dispatch - Event Details Report;
  • Narrative Text-WO #3 and an undesignated officer; and
  • Notes of SO, WO #1 and WO #2.

Incident Narrative

The events in question are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU. On May 4, 2019, the SO and WO #2 were together on patrol when they responded at about 11:12 a.m. to an apartment building at Chalkfarm Drive. A call had been received by the police from a 14th floor resident of the building reporting that the Complainant was in her unit and threatening to jump from the balcony.

The SO and WO #2 made their way to the unit directly below the 911 caller’s apartment and found the Complainant standing on the balcony railing with his hands grabbing the lower railing of the balcony above. From the balcony door threshold, the SO spoke with the Complainant and attempted to convince him to step down safely onto the balcony. The Complainant expressed fear of returning to the hospital, indicated he wished to kill himself and warned the officer he would jump if he stepped any closer. The SO assured the Complainant he would not take him to the hospital, told him he was there to help and pleaded with him not to jump. At about 11:25 a.m., about ten minutes after the officers had entered the apartment, the Complainant jumped from the balcony railing to the ground more than 30 metres below.

The Complainant was quickly taken to hospital by waiting paramedics where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at 12:16 p.m.

Cause of Death

The cause of death reported at the Complainant’s post-mortem examination was determined to be multiple blunt force trauma.

Relevant Legislation

Sections 219 and 220, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing death

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.

220 Every person who by criminal negligence causes death to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable
(a) where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.

Analysis and Director's Decision

The Complainant fell to his death from an apartment building on May 4, 2019. He had struggled with mental health challenges and suicidal ideations in his young life, attempting to jump from the building the month prior. On that occasion, the SO and WO #2 responded to the scene and managed to grab him from his balcony and take him to hospital. The same two officers were present with the Complainant on May 4th. The SO took the lead in dealing with the Complainant prior to his fall and was identified as the subject officer for purposes of the SIU investigation. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s death.

The offence that arises for consideration is criminal negligence causing death contrary to section 220 of the Criminal Code. The offence is predicated, in part, on conduct that represents a marked and substantial departure from a reasonable level of care in the circumstances. In the context of this case, the liability analysis essentially boils down to the following questions: Was there anything more that the SO could have done to prevent the Complainant’s self-inflicted death and, if so, was the officer so wanting in this regard that his conduct transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. I need only address the first question to resolve the matter as, in my view, it must be answered in the negative.

The evidence, in my view, establishes that the SO acted professionally throughout his dealings with the Complainant and did what was reasonably in his power to avert the Complainant’s final act. Only in April of this year, the officer had managed to prevent the Complainant jumping from his high-rise balcony by grabbing him and returning him to safety. On this occasion, the Complainant, while standing precariously on the railing of a balcony, warned him that he would jump if the officer approached him. The SO, reasonably in my view, decided not to push the issue, instead engaging him from the balcony door. The tactic seemed to work with the situation seemingly stable for a period as the officer spoke with the Complainant in compassionate tones attempting to have him climb down from the railing. As this was happening, arrangements were being made to callout the fire department, in contemplation of a potential rescue operation, and trained negotiators. Regrettably, there was no time to bring those resources to bear prior to the Complainant jumping from the building.

On the aforementioned record, I am unable to find fault with the manner in which the SO conducted himself in the minutes leading to the Complainant’s jump from the building. The officer was in the lawful execution of his duty to protect and preserve life when he entered the apartment and engaged the Complainant, hoping to prevent him from falling from the balcony. The SO’s communications with the Complainant were measured throughout and can in no way be seen to have contributed to the Complainant’s decision. In the final analysis, though the SO was unable to thwart the Complainant’s fateful course, the officer’s

inability to do so was not through any want of care on his part. In the result, there are no grounds for proceeding with criminal charges against the SO and the file is closed.


Date: November 25, 2019

Original signed by


Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit