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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-TCI-189

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 injuries that a 35-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

The SIU was notified about the incident by the Toronto Police Service (TPS) on Monday, August 12, 2019, at 9:50 p.m. The TPS reported that on August 12, 2019 at 6:32 p.m., police officers arrested the Complainant for a Highway Traffic Act (HTA) offence in the area of Jarvis and Carlton Streets. The Complainant had been riding a bicycle. Police officers pursued the Complainant and he was arrested after a struggle. The Complainant was taken to Saint Michael’s Hospital by ambulance, where he was diagnosed with a fractured jawbone.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3

Complainant:

35-year-old male not interviewed, [1] medical records obtained and reviewed


Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed. Notes received and reviewed


Evidence

The Scene

The scene was located at the northwest corner of Jarvis Street and Carlton Street, Toronto.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


Anonymous Video Clip from Social Media Recording

The video was a ten second recording that was posted on social media by a pseudonymous person who could not be identified. It appears to have been recorded by a rear seat passenger within a vehicle that was stationary facing south on Jarvis Street at its intersection with Carleton Street. The Complainant was seen to run north on the roadway in Jarvis Street’s curb lane along the vehicle’s passenger side. He was chased by a plainclothed police officer [now known to be the SO]. The SO pushed the Complainant from behind and the Complainant fell into the vehicle’s passenger side and there was a loud thump. The SO bent down at the vehicle’s back and kept yelling “get down.” He was assisted by WO #1, a uniformed bicycle police officer.

Communications Recordings

On August 12, 2019, at 6:36:07 p.m., a CRU (Community Response Unit) police officer, WO #2, broadcast, “Pursuit.” WO #2’s partner, WO #1, then broadcast the location as being at Jarvis and Carlton Streets. The SO was heard to broadcast, “Get down, get down, get down.” Another police officer then broadcast “one in custody”. The dispatcher asked if there was any injury and the police officer replied “small injury”. The dispatcher asked if it was the suspect or the police officer who was injured and the police officer responded that the suspect had a cut to his mouth. The dispatcher advised that she would have an ambulance dispatched.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
  • Communications recordings;
  • General Occurrence;
  • Google map.pdf;
  • Intergraph Computer-Assisted Dispatch;
  • Injury Report;
  • Notes from the Subject Officer;
  • Notes from all Witness Officers;
  • The TPS’s Arrest Procedure;
  • The TPS’s Use of Force Procedure; and
  • The video of the arrest.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from external sources:
  • Ambulance Call Report; and
  • Medical Record.

Incident Narrative

The material facts in question are clear on the weight of the evidence gathered by the SIU. Although the Complainant was initially unable to speak with SIU investigators as a result of his jaw being wired shut due to his injury, and later could not be located, the evidence provided by the police officers on scene and a ten second video of the incident establish a sufficient record to understand what happened for the purposes of these reasons.

On August 12, 2019, the SO was working in a plainclothes capacity, driving an unmarked police vehicle, when he observed the Complainant slowly riding his bicycle on Breadalbane Street in Toronto. The Complainant came to the SO’s attention because, as the Complainant slowly passed a line of parked cars, he would look inside each motor vehicle. The SO suspected that the Complainant might attempt to break into one of these vehicles. As the SO continued to watch the Complainant, he also noted that the Complainant, despite being dressed and unkempt in a way suggesting homelessness, was riding a Bike Share Toronto bicycle, whose use requires one to use a legitimate credit card. The SO thought it unlikely that the Complainant possessed a legitimate credit card. The Complainant was also carrying a woman’s clutch purse.

Despite his suspicions, the SO did not believe that he had sufficient grounds at this point to stop the Complainant. Instead, he contacted a colleague, WO #2, who was on bicycle patrol in the area with his partner, WO #1, provided him with the Complainant’s description, and inquired if WO #2 had any information about the Complainant.

WO #2, in turn, observed the Complainant proceed through a red light on his bicycle and cut off a motor vehicle before riding up onto the sidewalk. WO #2 approached the Complainant and informed him that he was investigating him under the HTA as a result of his going through the red light and cutting off a motor vehicle. WO #2 made a demand of the Complainant to provide some identification pursuant to the HTA, resulting in the Complainant’s dropping the bicycle and fleeing. WO #2 dismounted his bicycle and followed the Complainant on foot; the SO, who had observed the Complainant riding his bicycle on the sidewalk, [2] also gave chase. When the Complainant removed and discarded his backpack, WO #2 stopped to retrieve it, and the SO ran past him.

The ten second video clip, which appears to have been taken by a backseat passenger in a vehicle stopped facing south on Jarvis Street at its intersection with Carleton Street, shows the Complainant’s running along the vehicle’s passenger side with the SO right on his tail, slightly behind and west of the Complainant. As the two approach the vehicle’s rear, the SO can be seen using his right arm and shoulder area to check the Complainant into the vehicle. The parties both fall to the ground and end up behind the vehicle. The Complainant is no longer visible in the video at this time. The SO can be seen lowering himself to a kneeling position, holding his police radio in the left hand and yelling, “Get down, get down.” WO #1 arrives at the rear of the vehicle and also yells, “Get down.”

Shortly after the takedown, the Complainant was handcuffed and then seated on a nearby curb. An ambulance was called and transported the Complainant to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a fractured jaw.

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.

Section 218, Highway Traffic Act -- Cyclist to identify self

218 (1) A police officer who finds any person contravening this Act or any municipal by-law regulating traffic while in charge of a bicycle may require that person to stop and to provide identification of himself or herself.

 (2) Every person who is required to stop, by a police officer acting under subsection (1), shall stop and identify himself or herself to the police officer.

 (3) For the purposes of this section, giving one’s correct name and address is sufficient identification.

(4) A police officer may arrest without warrant any person who does not comply with subsection (2). 

Analysis and Director's Decision

The Complainant sustained a fractured jaw in the course of his arrest by the SO on August 12, 2019. 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 if such force was no more than was reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they were required or authorized to do by law. When the SO body-checked the Complainant into the vehicle and took him into custody, the Complainant had been seen committing HTA and by-law infractions, including riding his bicycle against a red light and on a sidewalk. Thereafter, he refused to identify himself when confronted by WO #2, choosing to flee instead, and was subject to being arrested pursuant to section 218 of the HTA.

The Complainant made it clear he would not be arrested peacefully when he took off from the officers and attempted to avoid apprehension. The SO ran up behind the Complainant and checked him into a stationary vehicle, ending the foot pursuit. Given the Complainant’s conduct, it is difficult to see how anything short of some sort of a takedown would have effectively stopped the Complainant so that he could be arrested. In the circumstances, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the force used by the SO fell outside the range of what was reasonably necessary in the circumstances to take the Complainant into custody.

In the final analysis, while I accept that the Complainant’s broken jaw was the unfortunate result of being body-checked into the vehicle by the SO, I am satisfied that the officer acted

lawfully throughout his dealings with the Complainant. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case and the file is closed.


Date: March 30, 2020
Electronically approved by


Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit

Footnotes

  • 1) Investigators met with the Complainant, but he was unable to speak because his jaw was wired shut. Attempts to locate the Complainant at a later date were unsuccessful. [Back to text]
  • 2) Contrary to the City of Toronto’s by-laws that stipulate that “no person age 14 or older may ride a bicycle on a sidewalk.” [Back to text]