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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-OCI-292

Contents:

News Releases for this Case:

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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 41-year-old man (“the Complainant”) suffered.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On December 3, 2019, at 9:25 p.m., the Peel Regional Police (PRP) notified the SIU of the Complainant’s injury.

The PRP reported that on December 3, 2019, PRP officers attempted to stop the Complainant for impaired driving and he fled into a storage company at 2605 Summerville Court. The PRP K-9 apprehended the Complainant at a storage unit. The Complainant suffered a dog bite and was transported to the Trillium Health Partners – Mississauga Hospital (THP - MH). His left calf required 11 stitches and 21 staples to close. The Complainant was heavily sedated. Once awake, the PRP were to release the Complainant on a Promise to Appear.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators (FIs) assigned: 1

The SIU FI photographed the scene. The area was canvassed for closed-circuit television (CCTV) video recordings.

Complainants

Complainant: 41-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Civilian Witnesses

CW Interviewed

Witness Officers

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


Subject Officers

SO Declined to be interviewed, as is the subject officer’s legal right, but chose to give notes for review.


Evidence

The Scene

The scene was a self-storage unit located in a building in a self-storage business on Summerville Court in Mississauga. There were blood drops leading from outside the front door and along the hallway up to the outside of the locker.

Police Communications Recordings


Radio communications

A dispatcher gave police unit # 1 a call for a possible impaired driver at 2605 Summerville Court. An impaired driver had just driven into a ditch. The driver was apparently still in the vehicle and was trying to reverse to get out. Other police units were requested by dispatch. Police unit # 2 offered to head over from the Division. The dispatcher said she would show police unit # 2 heading over. WO #1 offered to head over and the dispatcher acknowledged.

The dispatcher informed police unit # 2 and police unit # 1 that the man was still there. The dispatcher then indicated that the man had driven into other vehicles, that the man was running and that they were trying to get a direction of travel. Police unit # 3 and police unit # 2 requested a canine unit.

A canine unit responded. The dispatcher gave out the description of the man and WO #1 was updated. WO #1 asked if the canine unit wanted a perimeter started. The dispatcher said the man had gone to the drive-up units. There would be gates there and the man went inside the gate.

The canine unit indicated that he was in the area. He was told the man was inside the gated area of the drive-up units. The canine handler said he was going to be out on foot in a minute.

WO #1 told police unit # 1 to wait where WO #1 was and that they were trying to establish the area police unit # 1 was talking about. A second canine unit arrived and joined the first canine unit.

At 2:32 p.m., WO #1 asked for a “no transmissions unless urgent”. They were clearing some storage units.

At 2:36:10 p.m., WO #1 said everything was okay and that they could lift the no transmission unless urgent. They would require an ambulance as they had a dog bite.

At 2:38:51 p.m., WO #1 said they would be between two specific buildings. WO #1 wanted the ambulance to know they were at an address and not at the collision.

At 2:53 p.m., WO #1 said the ambulance had arrived.


911 Call

The CW said he needed a police officer at a self-storage facility. A man was really drunk and had driven into the parking lot. The CW yelled in the background, “Sir, sir, stop the car. You cannot (unintelligible) you’re drunk. Sir, stop the car right now.”

The call taker asked if the man was an impaired driver and the CW said yes. The man had driven into a ditch inside the property. The man opened one of the gates, went through the gate, and ran into that. The man was not hurt. The CW was worried the man was going to damage other vehicles in there as the man was still in the vehicle and he was trying to drive.

The call taker said a police officer was on the way and she kept the CW on the line. The CW said the man had a dog inside and he was running away now outside the gate. The man was going to the drive-up units. The CW disconnected as a police officer arrived.

A call taker asked an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) call taker for an ambulance to 2605 Summerville Court, Mississauga, between two specific units, for a possible impaired driver and indicated she believed one of their canines bit the man. Animal Control Services was contacted, as the police officers had a man in custody who had a small dog.

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;
  • Event Chronology;
  • Notes from the SO;
  • Notes from all WOs;
  • Occurrence Details;
  • Details about the Complainant;
  • Procedures for Incident Response;
  • Procedures for the Canine Unit;
  • The SO’s Training Certification-Canine; and
  • The Police Dog’s Training History.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following documents from the Peel EMS, THP-MS and a civilian witness:
  • Ambulance Call Report;
  • Medical Record;
  • Notes prepared by a physician;
  • Storage plan; and
  • Photograph.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are relatively clear on the weight of the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with the Complainant and three police witnesses who were present at the time of the arrest, and the SO’s notes of the incident.

Shortly after 2:00 p.m. on December 3, 2019, officers were dispatched to a self-storage facility at 2605 Summerville Court. An employee of the facility had called to report that an impaired driver – the Complainant – had crashed his pickup truck in the facility’s parking lot. In tandem with his dog, the SO arrived at the premises and began a search for the Complainant. The Complainant was soon found inside his storage unit in a building.

The Complainant, after crashing his pickup truck into a ditch, had left the vehicle with his dog and made his way into his storage unit, closing the sliding metal door behind him. He was intoxicated at the time. When confronted by the SO and other officers outside the unit, the Complainant refused to show them both hands or assist in lifting the door.

WO #2 and WO #1 eventually took matters into their own hands and lifted the door. As the door was raised from floor level, the Complainant was seen, his left side exposed, seated on the floor adjacent to the door. While the SO could see his left hand, the Complainant did not show his right hand. This caused the officer serious concern, as he could also see the handle of a machete close by on the floor to the Complainant’s right.

The SO released the dog and the dog proceeded to bite into the Complainant’s lower left leg. With the dog still latched to the leg, officers entered the unit and arrested the Complainant without further incident, at which time the SO released the dog.

Following his arrest, the Complainant was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was diagnosed and treated for several lacerations and puncture wounds.

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

In the afternoon of December 3, 2019, the Complainant was arrested by members of the PRP and taken into custody. A police service dog bit the Complainant in the course of the arrest, inflicting wounds to his left leg. The dog’s handler, the SO, was identified as the subject officer for purposes of the SIU investigation. 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 of the Criminal Code, police officers are immune 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. Given what the officers knew of the Complainant’s intoxication, crashed vehicle and flight into the storage building, I am satisfied he was subject to lawful arrest. Thereafter, I am further satisfied that the SO used no more force than was reasonably necessary by deploying the dog to engage the Complainant. The Complainant had made it clear that he was not about to cooperate in his arrest; though he had every opportunity to open the door of his storage unit, he failed to do so despite the officers’ repeated requests. Once the vertical slide-door was lifted by the officers and the Complainant refused to show his right hand, the SO was within his rights to engage the Complainant at a distance with the use of his dog. The SO could see a machete in close proximity to the right side of the Complainant and was concerned that the Complainant might access it to use as a weapon against the officers. Given the Complainant’s odd and obstinate behaviour to that point, the SO’s concerns were well-founded and his use of the dog, therefore, reasonable. Once engaged, the dog appears to have acted as trained, namely, to bite and hold onto a limb until released by its handler after the subject has been restrained.

In the result, while it is regrettable that the Complainant suffered serious lacerations and puncture wounds, I am unable to reasonably conclude on the aforementioned record that the SO acted other than lawfully throughout the Complainant’s arrest. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.


Date: April 28, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit