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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-OCI-115

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 26-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On May 26, 2019, at 6:45 p.m., the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant.

The OPS advised that on May 26, 2019, at 7:51 a.m., a carjacking took place whereby the Complainant walked up to an Ottawa Carlton (OC) Transpo Station at 1420 Woodroffe Avenue, Ottawa, and pulled a supervisor from her OC Transpo SUV. The Complainant fled the scene in the vehicle and subsequently crashed it at Woodroffe and Queensway. Minutes later the Complainant was found trying to get into a pickup truck in front of the Carlingwood Shopping Centre. He was approached by police officers and told he was under arrest. During his arrest the Complainant attempted to disarm the Subject Officer (SO) and was grounded. Due to his injury, the Complainant was transported to the Ottawa Civic Hospital for assessment.

At 4:23 p.m., police officers were notified that the Complainant had suffered a broken jaw based on an X-ray. The Complainant was admitted to hospital pending treatment and was being guarded by police officers.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 2

Complainant:

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



Evidence

The Scene

The scene of the Complainant’s arrest was not held and therefore was not examined by SIU forensic investigators. The Complainant was arrested by OPS police officers at the Carlingwood Mall. The mall is located at Carlingview Avenue and Woodroffe Avenue.

Communications Recordings

Communication recordings were reviewed, and it was determined they had no bearing on this incident in that they did not address how the Complainant received his injury or by whom.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPS:
  • Call Hardcopy;
  • Communications Recordings;
  • Motor Vehicle Accident Report;
  • Narrative Text-witness officers
  • Notes-PEW;
  • Policy-Use of Force;
  • Scenes of Crime Officer Photobrief; and
  • Witness Statements of four civilian witnesses.

Incident Narrative

The events in question are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included statements from the Complainant, the SO, several other officers who participated in the arrest and a civilian eyewitness. Shortly before 8:00 a.m. on May 26, 2019, the OPS received a call regarding a carjacking. A male – the Complainant – had forcibly removed an employee from an OC Transpo SUV and left in it traveling south on Woodroffe Avenue. Officers, including the SO, were dispatched to investigate the matter.

OC Transpo was able to track the stolen SUV using GPS data. The company informed the police that the SUV was stationary at the northwest corner of the Woodroffe Avenue and Highway 417 intersection. Arriving at the scene, the SO was advised that the Complainant had left the area in a white pickup truck. The officer drove south on Woodroffe Avenue attempting to locate the vehicle.

WO #2 was also on the lookout for the Complainant. Operating a fully marked cruiser, the officer and her passenger, the PEW, found the Complainant on the eastbound lanes of Carling Avenue next to a Honda Civic intending to turn left into the Carlingwood Shopping Centre. Traveling past the Civic and then performing a U-turn on Carling Avenue to travel west, WO #2 brought her cruiser to a stop beside the Complainant, who was by that time sitting on the hood of the Civic. WO #2 and the PEW exited their vehicle and approached the Complainant. The Complainant was clearly not of sound mind at the time. He indicated that WO #2 was going to shoot him. The officer assured him she would do no such thing but did explain he was under arrest. The Complainant objected to his arrest and pulled away from WO #2 as she attempted to take hold of his right wrist. WO #2 decided to wait for backup to arrive.

The SO arrived on Carling Avenue and parked his vehicle behind the Honda Civic. The Complainant said that the SO was there to shoot him. The Complainant then indicated that he would shoot himself if the officers were not prepared to do so and, with that, slid off the hood of the Civic and reached for the SO’s sidearm. The SO took hold of the Complainant’s hand as the Complainant made contact with his firearm. There followed a struggle in which the SO pushed the Complainant up against the driver’s door of the Civic before taking him down to the ground on the grassy centre median separating the east and west lanes of Carling Avenue. While on the ground, and fearing that the Complainant was about to reach for his CEW, the SO punched the Complainant once to the stomach.

WO #1 arrived on scene as the struggle between the SO and the Complainant continued on the ground. The officer delivered a single punch to the left side of the Complainant’s face, whereupon the Complainant quit his resistance and was handcuffed.

Paramedics arrived on scene shortly after the arrest and transported the Complainant to hospital.

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

In the morning of May 26, 2019, the Complainant was arrested by OPS officers. He was subsequently taken to hospital and diagnosed with a fractured jaw. The SO 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 arrest and injury.

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 was reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they were required or authorized to do by law. Based on the information at their disposal regarding the carjacking, I am satisfied on the evidence that the officers were proceeding to lawfully arrest the Complainant when the struggle to take him into custody began. I am further satisfied that the force used by the officers, including the SO, was legally justified. Moments before his encounter with the police, the Complainant had demonstrated a propensity for violence and irrational behaviour. He had carjacked a vehicle and crashed it in a grassy ditch as he attempted to enter the westbound lanes of Highway 417 from southbound Woodroffe Avenue. Thereafter, the Complainant made his way to the scene of the arrest where he accosted another motorist. At the sight of the arriving officers, he invited them to shoot him and then reached for the SO’s firearm saying he would do so himself. In the circumstances, I find no fault with the SO’s decision to enter into a wrestling match of sorts to protect his weapon and take the Complainant into custody. I am also unable to reasonably conclude that the takedown and the punches struck by the SO and WO #1 were excessive. The Complainant had given the officers every reason to be concerned for their personal safety and it was imperative that they take control of his movements as soon as possible. After the final strike by WO #1, the Complainant was handcuffed and no further were hostilities exchanged.

In the final analysis, while it may well be that the Complainant’s broken jaw was inflicted in his encounter with the police, [1] there are no reasonable grounds to conclude that the officers’ actions were anything other than reasonable and lawful. Accordingly, there is no basis to proceed with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.


Date: November 25, 2019

Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Interim Director
Special Investigations Unit

Endnotes

  • 1) There is a distinct possibility raised in the evidence of the Complainant having suffered his injury when he crashed the OC Transpo SUV. [Back to text]