RunnersCruiser accidentCruiser and motorbike
thick blue gradient line

SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-OCD-213

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 death of a 27-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On September 6, 2019, at 7:07 a.m., the Peel Regional Police (PRP) contacted the SIU and reported the following. On September 6, 2019, at about 4:26 a.m., PRP police officers responded to the area of Derry Road, where it passes over Highway (Hwy) 410, for a man sitting on the ledge of the overpass. As two police officers drove up to the scene and exited their police cruiser, the man jumped over the edge and landed on a vehicle, which was travelling in the southbound lanes of Hwy 410. The vehicle then caught fire. The man, who was now deceased, was identified as the Complainant. PRP closed Hwy 410.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2

Complainants

Complainant: 27-year-old male, deceased


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Not interviewed [1]

Witness Officers

WO Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO Declined to be interviewed and declined to submit notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right.


Evidence

The Scene

Scene 1 was on the north side of Derry overlooking the southbound lanes of Hwy 410.

Scene 2 was in the southbound lanes of Hwy 410, on the south side of the Derry Road overpass.

On September 6, 2019, at 8:05 a.m., two SIU forensic investigators (FIs) arrived at the Derry Road overpass bridge to the southbound lanes of Hwy 410. PRP officers had properly secured scene 1, by stopping traffic in both directions on the bridge. Photography was conducted, which showed overall views of the bridge and railing in the approximate area where the deceased fell. The railing was examined at this point and it was found to be heavily oxidized. The railing showed no sign of latent impressions. The height of the railing was .82 metres high and the distance from the railing to the highway surface below was 8.81 metres. This scene was released to the PRP at 8:15 a.m.

At 8:20 a.m., two SIU FIs arrived at the scene below the bridge. Scene 2 was found to be properly secured and guarded by police officers of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). All southbound traffic was diverted off the highway north of the scene. Permission was given for OPP Collision Reconstruction police officers to commence their investigation immediately after SIU photography was completed. Hwy 410 in this area consisted of seven lanes. All pavement markings were clear and visible. The roadway surface was dry and level. In the fifth lane from the centre of the highway, there was an area, marked by pylons, of personal effects scattered in a debris field that began underneath the overpass from the north edge and continued southbound towards where the Complainant was situated in the same lane. The Complainant was covered by a blanket and several other personal effects were found close by. The blanket was removed, and the Complainant was found lying on his back with his head oriented to the west and his feet to the east. The Complainant was clad in a black parka style jacket, green sweatshirt, blue sweatpants, cloth belt, and socks. Shoes were in the debris field previously described. There were several abrasions on the Complainant’s forehead and both hands. A knapsack, which contained personal items and clothing, was found near the Complainant’s feet. A cellular telephone and wallet were found close by. Identification inside the wallet bore the name of the Complainant. In the fourth lane from the centre of the highway, near the Complainant, a fluid trail commenced and travelled south, then veered towards the west shoulder of the highway, where it ended at a vehicle.

2013 Dodge Caravan black


This vehicle was oriented south on the west shoulder south of the overpass. This vehicle was destroyed by fire and there were signs of collision damage to the engine area and front end. Photography of the scene was finished and OPP police officers were given permission to commence their investigation and examination.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

A short video was received via the SIU’s website on September 9, 2019, at 5:00 p.m., from a civilian. The civilian, in his e-mail, advised that on September 6, 2019, at about 4:30 a.m., he was southbound on Hwy 410. As he passed Derry Road, he heard a loud bang. He returned home after work and he checked his dashcam after he heard from the media about the incident.

Civilian’s Video


The time stamp on the video was 25 minutes off. The civilian was in an easterly southbound lane. He passed a dark van [now known to be the Dodge Caravan that the Complainant landed on]. Just as he went under the bridge, he could see a dark shadow come off the bridge [now known to be the Complainant]. The exact moment in the video is at the 16 second mark in his video clip. It should be noted that no cruiser or police officer was seen on top of the bridge.

Police Communications Recordings

On September 6, 2019, at 4:26:17 a.m., a motorist called the PRP and advised that she was westbound on Derry Road, going over the Hwy 410 overpass and she observed a man who was looking northbound over the overpass down to Hwy 410. The motorist was not sure if the man was going to jump. The man was described as dressed in black clothing and he was six feet tall with a medium build and his skin colour was unknown. The motorist did not remain at the scene.

At 4:27:35 a.m., a police officer advised that she was on Hwy 410. At 4:37:39 a.m., the SO and the WO advised they were approaching Derry Road at Hwy 410. At 4:38:33 a.m., the SO advised that the man had jumped onto Hwy 410, on top of a southbound vehicle [later found to be a Dodge Caravan], which caught on fire.

Expert Evidence


Post-Mortem Report


At 10:00 a.m., the Coroner arrived at the scene to examine the Complainant. The Coroner issued the appropriate documentation regarding the Complainant and ordered body removal services to attend. The Complainant was removed to the Toronto Pathology Unit pending post-mortem examination.

At 8:15 a.m., September 7, 2019, SIU FI arrived at the Toronto Pathology Unit to witness and assist at the post-mortem examination of the Complainant. Photography of the procedure was conducted as directed. At 9:45 a.m., the examination concluded with the cause of death stated as “Multiple blunt force injuries.” Rolled impressions of the Complainant’s fingers were taken for possible file cancellation.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the PRP:
  • Audio Copy Report-Phone;
  • Audio Copy Report-Radio;
  • Communications-Phone;
  • Communications-Radio;
  • Computer assisted dispatch;
  • Disclosure Log-Sept 23, 2019;
  • The WO’s Drawing of Scene-Sept 12, 2019;
  • The WO’s Notes;
  • Occurrence Details relating to this incident;
  • OPP Motor Vehicle Collision Report relating to this incident;
  • The PRP’s Mental Health Policy; and
  • The PRP’s Civilian and Police Witness List relating to this incident.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

In addition, the SIU obtained and reviewed:
  • Ambulance Call Reports related to the Complainant; and
  • Dashcam video submitted via SIU video download by a civilian.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU and may be briefly summarized. At 4:26 a.m. on September 6, 2019, a motorist observed a man, later discovered to be the Complainant, standing on the Derry Road overpass across Hwy 410. Concerned that the man might be contemplating taking his own life, the motorist called 911. The WO and the SO responded to the call; they did so without activating either their emergency lighting system or siren. At 4:37 a.m., the WO and the SO advised the communications centre that they were approaching Derry Road at Hwy 410. The WO then drove the cruiser over the overpass, made a U-turn, and returned to park the cruiser approximately 15 to 20 metres from the Complainant. Both officers exited the cruiser and, almost immediately, the Complainant jumped from the overpass and struck a passing motor vehicle below, which killed him. At 4:38 a.m., the communications centre was advised that the Complainant had jumped.

Cause of Death


A post-mortem examination was conducted by a Forensic Pathologist, who concluded that the cause of death was the result of “Multiple blunt force injuries.”

Relevant Legislation

Section 219, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence 

219 (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
(a) in doing anything, or
(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.

(2) For the purposes of this section, duty means a duty imposed by law.

Section 220, Criminal Code -- Causing death by criminal negligence 

220 Every person who by criminal negligence causes death to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable

(a) where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.

Analysis and Director's Decision

The Complainant fell to his death off the Derry Road overpass onto the southbound lanes of Hwy 410 in the early morning of September 6, 2019. Seconds prior to his death, the WO, in the company of his partner, the SO, had arrived on the overpass to render assistance to the Complainant. On my assessment of the evidence collected by the SIU, there are no grounds to believe that either officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant.

There is no question of any criminal offence having been committed by the WO or the SO in relation to the Complainant’s death. The operative question is whether there was anything more the officers could have done to prevent the Complainant’s death. Clearly, there was not. They had barely arrived on the overpass and had just stepped out of their cruiser when the Complainant jumped from the north side of the overpass onto the southbound lanes of Hwy 410. It also bears noting that the officers responded quickly to the scene, refrained from using their emergency equipment so as not to panic or provoke the Complainant and, for similar reasons, parked a distance away for him.

On the aforementioned record, it is apparent that the officers conducted themselves professionally throughout and share in none of the responsibility for the Complainant’s fateful decision. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.


Date: April 27, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit

Footnotes

  • 1) She was the Complainant’s next-of-kin. [Back to text]