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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-OCI-248

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

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On October 11, 2019, at 6:22 a.m., the Peel Regional Police (PRP) reported an injury to the Complainant.

The PRP reported that on October 11, 2019, at 12:44 a.m., PRP officers responded to a break and enter in progress at 1742 Drew Road in Mississauga.

The Complainant was arrested and resisted, as a result of which he was grounded.

The Complainant was in possession of a crowbar and, during the grounding, he suffered four puncture wounds to his chest. He was taken first to the Brampton Civic Hospital (BCH) and then to the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC) due to fluid in his lungs.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1

An SIU Forensic Investigator (FI) took photos of the Complainant, the scene, and a tire iron that was associated with the injury. The Complainant’s clothing was also photographed and examined. The area was canvassed for closed-circuit television (CCTV).

Complainants

Complainant: 43-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed


Subject Officers

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


Evidence

The Scene

1740 Drew Road is a two-story industrial complex. The front doors face north and the rear shipping/receiving areas face south. The CCTV cameras were along the east, west, and south walls of the building. A chain link fence separates 1740 and 1754 Drew Road. Some fence fasteners had been tampered with. A police cruiser was parked facing south in an area between 1700 and 1740 Drew Road, towards the front of the industrial complex.
The CCTV cameras were on the north, west, and east corners of 1700 Drew Road, and on the north and west corners of 1754 Drew Road.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


Summary of CCTV 1740 Drew Road


On October 11, 2019, at 12:31 a.m., the Complainant cut the chain link fence ties at the rear of a business. At 12:36 a.m., the Complainant successfully entered the business and attempted to open a cargo van.

At 12:44 a.m., a police vehicle driven by the SO drove past the WO #1’s police vehicle, as WO #1 and WO #2 gave chase on foot after the Complainant down an alleyway between the buildings at 1740 and 1700 Drew Road.

At 12:45 a.m., the Complainant was on the ground with his hands handcuffed behind his back. The SO, WO #1 and WO #2 were in the Complainant’s immediate area.

Summary of CCTV 1754 Drew Road


On October 11, 2019, at 12:41 a.m., the Complainant ran on the west side of the building. At 12:42 a.m., a marked police vehicle driven by WO #2 drove past the Complainant and then reversed. The Complainant ran in the opposite direction.

Summary of CCTV 1700 Drew Road


On October 10, 2019, at 11:41 p.m., [1] a marked police vehicle arrived on the scene from the side of a building and proceeded south. At 11:43 p.m., the Complainant ran along the driver’s side of a marked police vehicle driven by WO #1. WO #1 swerved slightly to the right to avoid colliding with the Complainant. WO #1 exited his police vehicle and chased the Complainant on foot, with WO #2 behind him. A police vehicle driven by the SO drove past WO #1’s police vehicle towards the south side of the building.

As the SO’s police vehicle was coming to a stop, the Complainant ran into the SO’s police vehicle and his right side made contact with the driver’s side door of the SO’s police vehicle. Upon impact, and with his back against the SO’s police vehicle, the Complainant regained his footing and proceeded around the SO’s police vehicle. The SO did not exit his police vehicle and WO #1 tackled the Complainant to the ground from behind. The SO repositioned his police vehicle with the front of his vehicle facing west.

The Complainant fell to the ground face first, with WO #1 positioned on the left of the Complainant and WO #2 on the right. At 11:44 p.m., WO #2 delivered four knee strikes to the Complainant. The SO exited his police vehicle to assist WO #1 and WO #2.


At 11:50 p.m., WO #1 assisted the Complainant to a nearby sloped grassy area, where he lay facing up.

Police Communications Recordings

On October 11, 2019, at 12:36 – 12:39 a.m., a monitoring company reported a break and enter in progress at 1740 Drew Road; a man [now known to be the Complainant] had broken the fence and was stuck under the fence. The Complainant then made his way out from under the fence.

At 12:42 a.m., a police officer went down a driveway and the Complainant was on the other side of the building.

At 12:43 a.m., WO #2 reported that the Complainant was walking at the front of the building.

At 12:46 a.m., the Complainant was in custody on the west side of 1740 Drew Road. There was a request to send an ambulance, because he had an injury to his chest.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the PRP:
  • Audio Copy Report-Phone Calls;
  • Audio Copy Report-Phone;
  • Audio Copy Report-Radio Transmissions;
  • Audio Copy Report-Radio;
  • Directive-Incident Response;
  • Directive-Criminal Investigations;
  • Directive-Operation of Police Vehicles;
  • Email from PRP re training re-qualifications for both WOs;
  • Intergraph Computer-Assisted Dispatch-Event Chronology;
  • Notes from both WOs;
  • Occurrence Details;
  • Person details;
  • Training Program-Recruit Driver; and
  • Training Record-the SO.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following documents from the Peel Emergency Medical Services, BCH and SHSC:
  • Ambulance Call Report;
  • The Complainant’s Medical Record - BCH; and
  • The Complainant’s Medical record - SHSC.

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following video/audio evidence from the PRP and businesses:
  • CCTV footage from three different CCTVs.

Incident Narrative

The material events are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included statements from the Complainant, and WO #1 and WO #2. The investigation also benefitted from CCTV footage from security cameras that captured the Complainant’s arrest. At about 12:30 a.m. on October 11, 2019, the PRP received a call about a break and enter in progress on the premises of 1740 Drew Road. The SO, WO #1 and WO #2 travelled in their cruisers to the area and located the Complainant running away from the address. Observing WO #2’s cruiser ahead of him, the Complainant turned back to run west away from the officer. WO #2 exited his cruiser and chased after the Complainant on foot as WO #1 and the SO followed in their cruisers. WO #1 overtook WO #2 as the Complainant turned left to run south down the alleyway between the buildings at 1740 and 1700 Drew Road. WO #1 pulled up alongside the Complainant before stopping his cruiser and continuing the pursuit on foot, with WO #2 behind him. At about the same time, the SO’s cruiser passed them in the alleyway and turned left into the path of the Complainant. The Complainant ran into the driver’s side of the SO’s cruiser and stumbled momentarily before he regained his footing and continued running south. He travelled a short distance further south before he was tackled from behind by WO #1 and handcuffed.

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 was arrested in the early morning of October 11, 2019 at the rear of 1740 Drew Road in Mississauga. He was subsequently taken to hospital and diagnosed with a minor collapse of his lower left lung and a small puncture wound to the lower right torso. The SO was one of the three arresting officers and designated 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 injuries.

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 provided such force was reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they were authorized or required to do by law. The Complainant was clearly subject to arrest. He was in the area of the reported break and enter, had a tire iron on his person, and fled from the cruisers the moment they came to his attention.

With respect to the propriety of the force used against the Complainant, some evidence suggests that the Complainant was repeatedly kicked in the chest while being held down by the officers as he offered no resistance to his arrest. If this evidence were true, the Complainant may well have been the victim of an unlawful assault. However, the evidence that suggests this is far too unreliable to warrant resting criminal charges on it. For example, in contrast to the CCTV footage, clearly depicting the Complainant’s takedown from behind at the hands of WO #1, the incriminating evidence suggests that the Complainant fell to the ground after being struck by a police cruiser. There are other aspects of this incriminating evidence that are problematic. The cumulative impact of these weaknesses renders this incriminating evidence insufficiently reliable to warrant criminal charges.

When one turns to the reliable evidence around the force that was used in aid of the Complainant’s arrest, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the officers did not transgress the limits of the law. By the time the Complainant ran into the driver’s side of the SO’s cruiser, he had given the officers every indication he would not surrender peacefully. He had ignored repeated demands to stop and continued running even after WO #1 pulled up alongside him in his cruiser. On this record, I am unable to conclude that the SO acted unreasonably when he maneuvered his cruiser in front of the Complainant’s path of travel. The officers had good reason to believe that the Complainant had just broken into private premises and was fleeing from the scene; in the circumstances, there was some urgency in effecting his arrest as soon as possible. In arriving at this conclusion, I am satisfied that the SO did not intend to strike the Complainant with his cruiser, but only to position it as a blockade in front of the Complainant.

With respect to the takedown by WO #1 and what the CCTV footage shows were four knee strikes delivered to the Complainant by WO #2, I am similarly satisfied that the officers did not run afoul of the law. To reiterate, the Complainant was determined to avoid apprehension. In the circumstances, I cannot fault WO #1 for tackling him from behind when, despite being confronted by two cruisers right on his heels, the Complainant remained undeterred and continued to flee from the officers. Once on the ground, the officers noticed a tire iron on the Complainant’s person and struggled to overcome his resistance. Believing it was necessary that the Complainant be subdued as quickly as possible in the interests of everyone’s safety, WO #2 delivered four knee strikes. Thereafter, the officers were able to wrest control of the Complainant’s arms and affix them in handcuffs. No further force of any kind was used by the officers. On this record, I am unable to reasonably conclude that WO #2 erred in his calculations.

In the result, while I accept that the Complainant’s collapsed lung and puncture would may well have been caused at some point during his interaction with the involved officers, there are no grounds in the evidence to reasonably conclude that one or more of the SO, WO #1 and WO #2 acted unlawfully at any point. Accordingly, there is no basis to proceed with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.

Date: April 28, 2020
Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit

Footnotes

  • 1) Time on the device was not accurate and was an hour and one day behind. [Back to text]