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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-PCI-200

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 43-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On August 20, 2019, at 11:50 a.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) notified the SIU of the Complainant’s injury.

The OPP reported that the Complainant filed an Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) complaint alleging that when he was arrested by OPP police officers on March 1, 2019, the police officers banged his head on the ground and caused a brain bleed. He also claimed that the police officers did not double-lock the handcuffs and they tightened on his wrists, resulting in broken bones in his hands.

The OPP confirmed that on March 1, 2019, OPP police officers responded to a 911 call from the Complainant’s mother saying that the Complainant had assaulted her, and she had locked herself in a bathroom at the residence. When police officers arrived, they arrested an uncooperative Complainant and charged him with assault and mischief. 

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
 

Complainant:

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


Subject Officers

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



Evidence

The Scene

The booking area, cells and fingerprint room of the OPP Caledon Detachment.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

Summary of the OPP Video:

At about 12:38 a.m. of March 2, 2019, seven police officers, including the SO, escorted the Complainant from the police cruiser in the sally port to the booking desk. The Complainant physically resisted. After a pat-down search, the Complainant was escorted by the SO and another police officer to cell #1 at about 12:45 a.m. The SO neither kicked, hit, or punched the Complainant, nor did he twist the Complainant’s hands, specifically his right wrist. The Complainant was not grounded by the SO nor did he hit the floor in the booking area or on his way to the cell. The Complainant was placed into the cell and police officers left. While in the cell, the Complainant neither hit his head against the wall, the floor, or the cell bars, nor did he fall on or off the cement bunk.

At about 7:15 a.m., officers removed the Complainant from the cell and escorted him to another room to have his fingerprints taken. He was re-lodged in his cell at about 7:45 a.m. Nothing untoward occurred in the fingerprint room.

At 8:15 a.m., the Complainant was released from his cell, re-handcuffed to the front and placed in a police vehicle at 8:17 a.m. The vehicle exited the sally port at 8:18 a.m.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP:
  • Arrest Report;
  • Prisoner Report; and
  • OPP custody video.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed medical records from the Georgian Bay General Hospital, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre and the Central North Correctional Centre.

Incident Narrative

On March 1, 2019, officers from the Caledon Detachment of the OPP responded to a 911 call requesting police assistance. OPP officers responded to the residence and arrested and handcuffed the Complainant, following which they transported him to the Nottawasaga Detachment of the OPP.

The Complainant later filed a complaint with the OIPRD, reporting that when he was arrested, the police officers banged his head on the ground and caused a brain bleed. It was further alleged that because the police officers had not double-locked his handcuffs, the cuffs tightened on his wrists, resulting in broken bones in his hands.

Analysis and Director's Decision

There is some evidence that the Complainant was placed in handcuffs and into a police cruiser after his arrest on March 1, 2019. This evidence suggests that every time the police cruiser hit a bump, it caused the Complainant’s handcuffs, which had not been double-locked, to tighten on his wrists. The Complainant violently banged his forehead against the Plexiglas divider, repeatedly requesting that the officers pull over and loosen his handcuffs, but they would not do so. As the handcuffs tightened, bones in the Complainant’s hands and left wrist broke. The evidence further indicates that, once at the detachment, one of the tactical officers twisted the Complainant’s right hand and arm up behind his back causing him to fall forward and lose consciousness from pain. When the Complainant fell forward, it was possible that the Complainant may have struck his head on the wall, the edge of a bench, or the floor, causing a head injury.

With the assistance of the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage from the OPP detachment, the SO was identified as the subject officer as he was the only officer in a tactical uniform and can be seen escorting the Complainant from the police cruiser to the booking desk, while the Complainant is actively resisting. The Complainant is then escorted into a cell by the SO and another police officer. The video reveals that at no time did the SO twist the Complainant’s right wrist, and no police officer kicked, hit, or punched the Complainant. The only time the Complainant was removed from his cell was at 7:15 a.m. when he was taken to a room by two officers to have his fingerprints take. The recording establishes that nothing untoward occurred in the fingerprint room before he was re-lodged in his cell at 7:45 a.m. At no time was he observed to be taken to the floor or to hit the floor, and at no time did he hit his head against the wall, the floor, the cell bars, or the cement bunk while in his cell.

Based on the reliable evidence, I am unable to place any reliance on the incriminating evidence gathered in this investigation. Furthermore, there is no medical evidence that the Complainant sustained broken bones in both hands and his left wrist.

In the final analysis, I am unable to conclude that the incriminating evidence rises to the level of being capable of supporting criminal charges. Accordingly, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO, or any police officer involved in the Complainant’s arrest or imprisonment, assaulted him, causing any injury, and the file is closed.


Date: February 18, 2020


Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit