Cruiser and motorbikeRunnersCruiser accident
thick blue gradient line

SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-TCI-258

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 61-year old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

The Toronto Police Service (TPS) advised that on November 1, 2019 at 3:20 p.m., Toronto Drug Squad (TDS) police officers saw that the Complainant was involved in a drug deal in the area of Queen Street East and Yonge Street in Toronto. The TPS was not sure if the Complainant sold to an undercover police officer or to someone else. Police officers moved in to arrest the Complainant and there was a short pursuit, which ended at 69 Queen Street East. The Complainant was arrested and taken to TPS 51 Division, where he complained of having a sore leg. He was taken to St. Michael’s Hospital (SMH), where he was diagnosed with a fractured femur. There was no scene, but it was reported that there might be video in the area. All police officers had gone home by the time the injury was reported. The Complainant was to be in SMH for surgery and would be held in custody at the hospital.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4

The Complainant was interviewed at SMH and a medical release was signed and medical records were obtained.

The scene had not been held.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) video was obtained from a business on Queen Street East and St. Michael’s Health Centre (SMC) at 61 Queen Street East. The videos were reviewed and reports submitted.

TPS communications and computer-assisted dispatch were obtained and reports were submitted.

Five witness officers were designated and interviewed. An additional three witness officers were designated for notes based on the fact they provided transportation and were hospital guards.

Complainant:

61-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #5 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
WO #7 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #8 Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed


Evidence

The Scene

The scene was located on the south sidewalk of Queen Street East between the SMC at 61 Queen Street East and 69 Queen Street East.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


SMH and SMC Video November 1, 2019:


SMH had five external cameras. Three of the cameras (482, 483 and 492) were located on the east side of the hospital and afforded a view of Bond Street. They had no investigative value.

SMC was located on the south side of Queen Street East. Camera 613 was in an alcove between 61 Queen Street East and 69 Queen Street East. Camera 621 was located at the front door of SMC and faced west on Queen Street East.

Camera 613

The video started at 3:14:30 p.m. and was recorded at .63 frames per second, which resulted in a choppy recording. At 3:16:20 p.m., a small-framed man wearing a light-coloured jacket was grounded on the sidewalk in front of 61 Queen Street East by two men in dark clothing [now known to be TDS unit police officers, WO #2 and WO #3]. The small-framed man was known to be the co-accused of the Complainant in the TPS’s investigation.

At 3:16:22 p.m., the SO, wearing dark clothing, stood on the sidewalk east of the takedown of the Complainant’s co-accused and faced eastbound. The SO faced a tall man in dark clothing with long grey hair [now known to be the Complainant]. The SO had his arms stretched out and was about to grab the Complainant. A short woman with light-coloured hair and dark clothing [now known to be WO #8] stood on the sidewalk between the SO and the takedown of the Complainant’s co-accused, facing east.

At 3:16:33 p.m., the SO grabbed the Complainant’s left arm with both hands and pulled him to the sidewalk. The Complainant landed on his right side. WO #8 assisted the SO after the takedown and the Complainant was rolled onto his stomach and, after a struggle, the Complainant was handcuffed at 3:17:23 p.m., with his hands behind his back. WO #8 was seen to pick some articles up from the sidewalk and the Complainant lay on his stomach with his head facing toward the building. The SO had his back to the camera as he knelt on the Complainant with his knees on the Complainant’s back and left shoulder.

At 3:19:19 p.m., the Complainant was brought to his feet while the struggle on the sidewalk continued with the Complainant’s co-accused. At 3:27:05 p.m., the Complainant’s co-accused stood on the sidewalk west of the Complainant, with his hands handcuffed behind his back. The Complainant’s co-accused was seen to run west, from the police officers, and out of the screen. At 3:57:23 p.m., the Complainant was placed into the rear of a marked cruiser.

Camera 621

The video started at 3:26:56 p.m. At 3:27:05 p.m., the Complainant’s co-accused, at the right side of the screen, ran northwest across Queen Street East, with his hands handcuffed behind his back. 

Video from Business at 69 Queen Street East:


The camera was on the exterior of the building and faced in a westerly direction, affording a view of the south sidewalk of Queen Street East.

At 3:11:44 p.m., the Complainant and the Complainant’s co-accused stood on the south side of the south sidewalk of Queen Street East between SMC, at 61 Queen Street East, and 69 Queen Street East. The camera was at a distance and the faces could not be made out. The Complainant was tall and wore dark clothing and a dark hat; his long grey hair could be seen under the hat and he was unsteady on his feet. The Complainant’s co-accused was shorter with a light-coloured jacket. The Complainant was blocked by a man in dark clothing.

At 3:13:14 p.m., both the Complainant and the Complainant’s co-accused went in and out of an alcove between the buildings.

At 3:14:45 p.m., the Complainant’s co-accused spoke to someone and a drug transaction appeared to take place.

At 3:15:23 p.m., it was very noticeable how unsteady the Complainant was on his feet.

At 3:16:00 p.m., the Complainant’s co-accused was chased on foot, a very short distance, in a westerly direction by two men in dark clothing. At 3:16:32 p.m., the Complainant’s co-accused was pulled to the ground by the two men, while the Complainant was pulled to the ground by a taller man in dark clothing [now known to be the SO] and a shorter person in dark clothing [now known to be WO #8]. The camera was at a distance and faces could not be made out. The Complainant landed on his right side and, after a short struggle, he was handcuffed with his hands behind his back.

Booking Video from TPS 51 Division on November 1, 2019:


On November 1, 2019, at 5:49:45 p.m., WO #4 and WO #5 paraded the Complainant in front of WO #7. The Complainant was dressed in dark clothing and had white hair covering his face. WO #7 asked the standard booking questions, a Level 3 (strip search) search was authorized, and the Complainant was placed in a cell.

At 8:30 p.m. on the same date, the Complainant was led into the booking hall by the booker and turned over to WO #4 and WO #5. The Complainant appeared to be in severe pain.

Communications Recordings

The communications audio was reviewed for this file and was found to have no investigative value.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
  • Booking Video;
  • Communications Audio;
  • General Occurrence;
  • In-Cruiser Camera System Video;
  • Intergraph Computer-Assisted Dispatch;
  • Notes of the witness officers and the SO;
  • Procedure on Arrest and Release;
  • Procedure on Use of Force and Equipment (with Appendices); and
  • TPS - Injury Report.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

The following items were obtained from other sources:
  • CCTV from SMC at 61 Queen Street East;
  • CCTV from business at 69 Queen Street East; and
  • SMH Medical Records.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are apparent on the weight of the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with the Complainant, the SO and several other police witnesses present at the time of the arrest. The investigation also benefitted from CCTV footage captured of the incident by several security cameras in the area. Shortly after 3:00 p.m. on November 1, 2019, members of the drug squad mobilized in the area of Church Street and Queen Street East. WO #1, in plainclothes and undercover, approached the Complainant on the south sidewalk of Queen Street East and asked for drugs - $40.00 worth of crack cocaine. The Complainant left the area and then returned, whereupon there was an apparent hand-to-hand exchange with WO #1. WO #1 walked away from the scene and gave a signal to the other team members to indicate that a drug transaction had been completed with the Complainant.

The SO, in the company of WO #8, converged on the area and confronted the Complainant. The officer showed his police badge to the Complainant and told him he was under arrest. The Complainant pulled back and broke the officer’s hold after the SO grabbed the Complainant’s clothing. The SO took hold of the Complainant again and forced him to the ground, whereupon, with the assistance of WO #8, the Complainant was handcuffed. The Complainant immediately complained of pain in his right hip.

Following the Complainant’s arrest, he was taken to the station and then to hospital, where his broken hip was diagnosed.

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 November 1, 2019, the Complainant suffered a broken right hip in the course of his arrest by TPS drug squad officers. The SO was among the arresting officers and identified as the subject officer in 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(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. Based on WO #1’s dealings with the Complainant and the observations made by the SO and other drug squad officers of an apparent drug transaction between the two, I am satisfied that the Complainant was subject to lawful arrest. Thereafter, when the Complainant resisted his arrest by pulling free of the SO’s hold, the officer was entitled to resort to a measure of force to take him into custody. In my view, the takedown that followed, which does not appear to have been overly violent, was a reasonable tactic in the circumstances. With the Complainant on the ground, the officer would be in a better position to manage any further resistance on his part. As it turns out, the Complainant did in fact struggle against the efforts of the SO and WO #8 to control his arms but was quickly subdued and restrained in handcuffs. No strikes of any kind were delivered by the officers.

In the result, while I accept that the Complainant suffered his injury in the course of his takedown at the hands of the SO, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the arrest or the force that was used to effect it were unlawful. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case and the file is closed.


Date: April 28, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit