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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-TCI-139

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 36-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On June 18, 2019 at 11:50 p.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) contacted the SIU and reported an injury to an unidentified male [later identified as the Complainant]. The information was that on June 18, 2019 at about 9:59 p.m., the Complainant had broken into a residence at Torrens Avenue, Toronto. Once inside the residence, the Complainant made his way to the kitchen, where he armed himself with a knife. The Complainant tried to light himself on fire but was unsuccessful. The Complainant then went into a bedroom and barricaded himself inside, still in possession of the knife. The homeowners contacted police.

The first police officers on scene were from TPS 55 Division, followed shortly by Emergency Task Force (ETF) police officers who took over the scene and attempted negotiations with the Complainant. A short time later, police officers heard moaning from within the bedroom and decided to force their way in. Once inside the bedroom, police officers found the Complainant suffering from a stab wound to the chest. The Complainant was transported to Saint Michael’s Hospital (SMH).

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned:

In the early morning of June 19, 2019, two SIU investigators and one SIU forensic investigator (FI) were dispatched. Exhibits were removed from the scene. 

Seven witness police officers were designated for notes; three witness police officers were designated for interviews; and, one subject officer was designated. Communications audio was obtained from the TPS along with investigative documentation, witness officer notes and civilian witness statements. SIU investigators met with the Complainant on June 24, 2019. The Complainant signed a medical release and medical records were eventually obtained. The owner of the residence, the CW, was interviewed on June 25, 2019. A Canadian Police Information Centre check was done on the Complainant.

Complainant:

36-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 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #5 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #6 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #7 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #8 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #9 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #10 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed


Evidence

The Scene

The scene was located in the rear bedroom of a residence on Torrens Avenue. On Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 2:46 a.m., an SIU FI attended the scene. On the front lawn of the residence was a comforter that had been removed from the residence. This item had been lit on fire as there were many areas of charred material. The front door of the residence showed no signs of forced entry. At the northwest corner of the kitchen was the entrance to a bedroom. The door to the bedroom showed signs of having been forced. The entire bedroom was in disarray with clothing and personal items strewn on the floor.

Initial briefings of this incident indicated that the Complainant had suffered from stab wounds while barricaded inside the bedroom. A search of the bedroom in its state of disarray revealed six edged weapons. A total of five knives and one barbeque fork were collected from the room for further examination. Photographs of the scene were taken prior to collection of evidence; however, photographs of the knives in the bedroom were not completed due to the state of the room. Knives were removed from the room and photographed in the kitchen. The barbeque fork was also removed and photographed in the kitchen.

Communications Recordings

On June 18, 2019 at 9:59:45 p.m., the CW telephoned the TPS communications branch and advised that there was someone in his house at Torrens Avenue. The person was in his bedroom. The male [now known to be the Complainant] was described as male, black with a medium build. He had barricaded himself in the bedroom. The Complainant had grabbed something in the kitchen, possibly a knife. The bedroom faced the back of the house. There were bars on the bedroom window. The Complainant was possibly the suspect from a theft of a vehicle (Becks cab) and a fail to remain at the scene of a collision. Witnesses from the collision advised that the Complainant was possibly on drugs and very angry.

At 10:01:14 p.m., WO #7 and WO #8 were dispatched and at 10:01:28 p.m., WO #6 was dispatched. WO #6 requested that the ETF monitor the call. The dispatcher advised that information from the CW was that the Complainant had possibly grabbed a knife or a fork from the kitchen and pointed it at the CW in a threatening manner, so the CW ran out of the house. Numerous other police units were dispatched. Information was received that the Complainant was the only person in the house and he was trashing the house.

At 10:11:25 p.m., WO #6 was on scene. Information was received from WO #2, who was at the back of the house, that the Complainant had lit himself on fire. A rush was requested for the Toronto Paramedic Service to respond. WO #2 made contact with the Complainant and the Complainant advised he was going to kill the police. At 10:18:26 p.m., WO #6 advised that the flames had been extinguished and that he was at the front door to the residence, which was wide open, with a view of the bedroom door.

At 10:32:49 p.m., WO #6 advised that the ETF had entered the house. At 10:36:15 p.m., WO #8 advised that the Toronto Fire Service had cut off the gas supply to the house. At 10:46:51 p.m., WO #6 advised that one male had been removed from the house. At 10:58 p.m., WO #8 advised that the Complainant would be going to SMH by ambulance.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
  • Charge List-the Complainant;
  • General Occurrence;
  • Computer Aided Dispatch-Event Details (x4);
  • Communication recordings;
  • Injury Report (Police)-the Complainant;
  • Motor Vehicle Accident Report;
  • Notes of the SO and witness officers;
  • Procedure-Arrest;
  • Procedure-ETF; and
  • Procedure-Use of Force.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

The SIU also obtained the Complainant’s medical records from SMH.

Incident Narrative

The material facts in question are not in dispute. Shortly before 10:00 p.m. on June 18, 2019, the TPS received a call from the CW, the resident of a house on Torrens Avenue. The CW indicated that a male – the Complainant – had forced his way into the residence and was currently barricaded in a bedroom in the possession of a knife or fork, which he had used to threaten him. According to the CW, the Complainant appeared intoxicated and was very angry. Police officers were dispatched to the address.

Officers began arriving at the scene at about 10:10 p.m. A number of them entered the house but quickly exited when, from behind the closed bedroom door, the Complainant was heard to threaten them with death. The house was contained from the outside pending the arrival of the ETF.

At approximately 10:30 p.m., a team of ETF officers entered the home and convened outside the barricaded bedroom door. The SO, a member of the team, took the lead in attempting to communicate with the Complainant through the door. The Complainant shouted, moaned and banged around. His responses to the officers were largely unintelligible. Concerned for the Complainant’s well-being, the ETF officers forced the bedroom door open and stepped inside. The Complainant was quickly located on the floor next to the bed. The officers had no difficulty in securing the Complainant in handcuffs, whereupon he was removed from the bedroom and placed on a stretcher in the kitchen.

Following his arrest, the Complainant was taken to hospital where he was treated for stab wounds and a collapsed lung.

Forensic examination of the bedroom revealed there to be five knives and a barbeque fork present in the room.

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 suffered a collapsed lung and stab wounds on June 18, 2019 shortly before he was arrested by TPS officers. Among the arresting officers, and identified as the subject officer for purposes of the SIU investigation, was the SO. 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 injuries.

Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, police officers are protected 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 authorized or required to do by law. The officers who responded to the home on Torrens Avenue were engaged in the lawful exercise of their duties. The Complainant had forcibly entered the home, armed himself with an edged weapon and barricaded himself in a bedroom. He was clearly subject to lawful arrest. Once inside the home, the team of ETF officers attempted to communicate with the Complainant but quickly discerned that the Complainant was not of sound mind and incapable of responding rationally. Knowing that he had a knife or fork with him, and concerned for his safety, the officers forced the bedroom door open and quickly took the Complainant into custody. Aside from taking hold of the Complainant to secure him in handcuffs, little if any force was used in his arrest. In the result, it is apparent the officers did not use excessive force in effecting the Complainant’s lawful arrest.

I am further satisfied that there is no viable suggestion of liability on the part of the officers rooted in criminal negligence. The Complainant’s health was as much a concern motivating the officers’ conduct as was the need to apprehend an alleged offender. To reiterate, the SO and his colleagues acted quickly to apprehend the Complainant; ten to 15 minutes had elapsed between the moment the ETF officers entered the home and their entry into the bedroom – a relatively short period of time given information at the officers’ disposal of a weapon in the Complainant’s possession and the need to exercise some caution in the circumstances. Tactical paramedics were at the ready and able to assess the Complainant promptly following his arrest, at which time the Complainant’s wounds were noted and he was taken to hospital. On this record, I am satisfied the ETF officers acted with due care and regard for the Complainant’s well-being.

In the final analysis, there are no reasonable grounds to conclude that the officers are criminally responsible by way of unlawful force or a want of care for what appear to have been the Complainant’s self-inflicted injuries. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case and the file is closed.


Date: February 18, 2020

Original signed by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit