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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-TCI-242

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 37-year-old woman (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On October 6, 2019, at 8:10 a.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) contacted the SIU and relayed the following. On October 4, 2019, at 1:20 a.m. (now known to be 6:58 p.m.), the Complainant was arrested in the area of 4218 Lawrence Avenue East in Toronto for failing to comply with her release conditions. She was intoxicated and was transported to TPS 43 Division where she was processed, lodged, and held for a bail hearing. While being processed, she complained of a bruise on one of her legs and a pain in her side, but refused medical attention.

When the Complainant was transported to Vanier Detention Centre (VDC), she complained that she had a sore leg. She was transported to the Milton District Hospital (MDH) where she was diagnosed as having sustained an evulsion fracture to her left ankle. At the hospital, she informed the medical staff that the police caused her injury during her arrest. She was treated and released back into the custody of the VDC.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
 
The Complainant was interviewed at VDC. She signed a medical release and medical records were obtained from MDH. An ambulance call report was also obtained.

The area of 4218 Lawrence Avenue East was canvassed for video, but none was found. Booking hall and cell videos were obtained, as was a in-car camera system (ICCS) video from a police vehicle. 
 
At the time of her booking, the Complainant told Witness Officer (WO) #2 that she had been at the Scarborough General Hospital (SGH) for 18 hours the day before. She signed a medical release and medical records were obtained from SGH, but they were found to be totally unrelated to this case. 
 

Complainant:

37-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #4 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed


Police Employee Witnesses

PEW Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed


Evidence

The Scene

There were two scenes of interest: the parking lot outside a restaurant at the Lormar Plaza lot, 4218 Lawrence Avenue East, which was on the north side of Lawrence Avenue, east of Morningside Avenue; and, TPS 43 Division.

Police Communications Recordings

On October 4, 2019, at 6:59:35 p.m., the SO and WO #1 advised the dispatcher that they had one person in custody. At 7:00:02 p.m., they requested that a woman police officer attend and perform a search. They then gave their location as 4218 Lawrence Avenue East, which was the Lormar Plaza.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


ICCS Video Report:


The video refers to a TPS police vehicle from 43 Division. The video started on October 4, 2019, at 6:57:57 p.m., and showed a view from the front of the cruiser as it pulled into, and stopped, on a plaza lot. Muffled voices were heard of a man and an intoxicated woman. The man’s voice was heard to say, “[The Complainant], we have a warrant.” There was a great deal of static and voice overs and, for the most part, the conversation could not be understood. There was no discernible sound of a struggle or complaint.

At 7:01:57 p.m., the rear seat interior camera was activated and at 7:02:22 p.m., the right rear driver’s side door was opened. It recorded a partial view of a woman [now known to be the Complainant] standing outside the door and a police officer standing behind her. The Complainant appeared unsteady on her feet. The Complainant and a police officer appeared to come from the back of the cruiser. Only the legs of the police officer and the Complainant’s legs and partial body could be seen. The Complainant turned to face the cruiser; she was handcuffed with her hands behind her back. The police officer stood to her right side.

At 7:05:32 p.m., a plainclothes female police officer [now known to be WO #3] performed a pat-down search on the Complainant. The Complainant was directed to the open door and a man’s voice told her to watch her head. She stood facing out from the door and WO #3 told the Complainant to bend her knees. WO #1 opened the rear passenger door and entered the compartment and pulled the Complainant into the back of the cruiser. The Complainant complained that her head was banged. The Complainant said she was in pain but never complained about her foot.

At 7:09:37 p.m., the cruiser started to move and at 7:22:03 p.m., the cruiser stopped.

At 7:22:33 p.m., the rear passenger door opened and a police officer with a cellular telephone in his hand said, “I called your father and there was no answer.” The Complainant kept crying. She stated she had been in the hospital all night.

At 7:24:24 p.m., a police officer opened the rear driver’s side door and loosened the handcuffs.

At 7:25:40 p.m., the sally port door opened and at 7:26:10 p.m. the cruiser entered and the Complainant was able to stand on her feet as she exited the cruiser.

Sally Port and Booking Video:


At 7:30:02 p.m., on October 4, 2019, the Complainant was led from the cruiser into the booking hall by the SO; she appeared to favour her left leg. WO #2 informed her that the process was being video and audio recorded. The SO told WO #2 that the Complainant had been arrested on the strength of a warrant for Theft Under $5,000. The Complainant advised that she did not do it. The Complainant was obviously intoxicated, her speech was slurred and she was unsteady on her feet and the SO held onto her.

On request, she told WO #2 she did not want to speak to a lawyer, but she wanted to speak to her dad, who was her surety. The SO told WO #2 that she was a known drug user and, when questioned by WO #2, she said she had not taken street drugs or alcohol that day. She gave her address and date of birth and told WO #2 about a medical condition. She was asked if she was injured and she said she had been at the SGH for 18 hours and that her left leg was badly bruised from a fall. The Complainant made no mention at any time that her left ankle hurt. She complained that they only gave her 5 milligrams of morphine at the hospital. It was very difficult to understand the Complainant, as she mumbled and slurred her words. The Complainant was also asked about her mental health.

WO #2 told her that a Level 3 search would be performed on her and, at 7:38:04 p.m., the Complainant was led into a room off to the side by WO #3 and WO #4. At 7:50:17 p.m., both police officers and the Complainant exited the room and the video finished.

At no time did the Complainant complain about a sore left ankle or request medical assistance.

Hallway and Cell 10 Video for October 4 to 5, 2019:


At 9:11 p.m., the Complainant, who was dressed in dark clothing, was led by the PEW and placed in a cell. The PEW had physical control of the back of both of the Complainant’s arms. The Complainant appeared to struggle as she was placed into the cell and, because of this, it was not distinguishable whether she had a limp.

At 9:11 p.m., the Complainant entered cell 10 and she appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. She was able to stand up and move around the cell and she appeared very animated.

At 9:12:13 p.m., the Complainant stood with her back to the wall and her left foot on top of the cell bench.

At 9:14:58 p.m., she stood with her back to the bench and faced the wall. She had her right foot bent up and she had all her weight on her left foot. At 9:15:45 p.m., she stood at the edge of the bench and her left foot was bent inwards. She then sat on the edge of the bench with her left leg straight out and she looked at her left foot.

At 9:17:11 p.m., she turned to face the bench and she lifted her left leg up onto the bench. She was bent over, and she took her left sock off. She turned to face the wall with her back to the bench and she took her left pant leg off and her face grimaced in pain. She then dropped her right pant leg and sat on the bench. Her face grimaced in pain and she inspected her left ankle.

At 7:06 a.m., as the Complainant was led to the sally port by both court officers. She wore an orange jump suit and appeared to limp with her left foot.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
  • Booking Record: the Complainant;
  • Computer-Assisted Dispatch Event Details Report;
  • Communications Audio;
  • General Occurrence Hardcopy;
  • Drawing of Scene: WO #1;
  • Injury Report for the Complainant;
  • The Complainant’s Recognizance;
  • Notes of the witness officers, the PEW and the SO;
  • TPS Booking Video;
  • TPS Hallway and Cell Video;
  • TPS ICCS;
  • TPS Procedure - Arrest;
  • TPS Procedure - Arrest and Release;
  • TPS Procedure - Use of Force;
  • Training Record (Use of Force) for the SO; and
  • Warrant in the First Instance.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

The SIU also obtained and reviewed the following materials from other sources:
  • Ambulance Call Report;
  • Medical Record - MDH; and
  • Medical Record - SGH.

Incident Narrative

On October 4, 2019, the SO of the TPS arrested the Complainant on an outstanding warrant for theft. Following her arrest, the Complainant was transported to hospital where she was diagnosed with a fracture to her left ankle.

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 SIU’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Complainant’s injury consisted of interviews with the Complainant, the SO, a couple of police witness officers and one police employee; there were no civilian witnesses who came forward as having observed the arrest of the Complainant. Additionally, SIU investigators obtained and reviewed the ICCS video from the police vehicle in which the SO was an occupant and the Complainant was transported to the police station, video from various areas of the police station wherein the Complainant was processed and lodged following her arrest, and the medical and ambulance records of the Complainant’s visit to the hospital. From a review of this evidence, and for the reasons that follow, I am satisfied there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s 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 lawful duties provided such force was reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they were authorized or required to do by law. The SO was within his rights in seeking to arrest the Complainant; there was a warrant out for her arrest on charges of theft.

There is some evidence that the Complainant’s ankle was fractured as a result of an excessive use of force by the SO during the course of her arrest. This evidence indicates that when the Complainant was arrested, she told the SO that her left leg was bruised, as she had tripped and fallen a week prior, and asked that he not put pressure on it. When the SO was placing the Complainant under arrest, however, she swivelled her arms and he told her not to resist, following which he put pressure on her left foot, crushing it, while he held her with his body pressure as she was faced forward against his cruiser and handcuffed. As a result, she cried out in pain, following which the SO placed her in the back of the police cruiser. This evidence suggests that the SO fractured the Complainant’s left foot when he crushed it with the pressure of his body.

It would be unwise and unsafe to rest criminal charges on the aforementioned evidence alone because it is not substantiated by the Complainant’s medical records. Moreover, there is no indication in the ICCS footage and the video recordings from the Complainant stay at 43 Division that the Complainant was abused in the manner suggested. Finally, there is substantial evidence that the Complainant’s injury pre-existed her arrest on October 4, 2019 or was self-incurred when she kicked at the door of the interview room in which she was lodged for a period prior to being placed in cells after her arrest.

In contrast to the various statements of the Complainant, the evidence of the SO, and his escort, WO #1, is consistent in all material aspects, with WO #1 confirming the evidence of the SO that he was present and observed the arrest by the SO of the Complainant, that there was no struggle with the Complainant, that no force other than that required to place her in handcuffs was resorted to by the SO, and that the Complainant at no time cried out or exhibited any indication that she had been injured during her arrest, nor did she ever complain of same.

In the result, there is no reliable evidence that the SO, or his partner, WO #1, used excessive force in effecting the Complainant’s arrest. Accordingly, whatever the cause of the Complainant’s fractured left ankle, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO acted other than lawfully throughout his dealings with her. There is, therefore, no basis for proceeding with criminal charges and the file is closed.


Date: April 20, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit