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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-PCI-004

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

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On January 7, 2020, at 10:20 a.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) notified the SIU of the Complainant’s injury.

According to the OPP, on January 6, 2020, at approximately 8:05 p.m., the Complainant was in the area of Ripley Street, Ripley, Huron-Kinloss Township. At that time, the Complainant apparently approached a vehicle and became involved in a physical confrontation with the driver. Several bystanders called 911 and stepped in and restrained the Complainant while waiting for police officers [now known to be Witness Officer (WO) #4, WO #1, and WO #3] to attend. Upon the police officers’ arrival, the Complainant was arrested, handcuffed, and placed in a police cruiser. He reportedly began banging his head against the cruiser’s security screen, causing some bleeding.

Police officers transported the Complainant to the South Bruce Grey Health Centre’s Kincardine District Hospital in Kincardine. The Complainant was admitted to hospital overnight for observation due to his level of intoxication. On the morning of January 7, 2020, he was diagnosed with a fractured hand. The Complainant was treated and discharged from the hospital into police custody pending a bail hearing.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4

Complainants

Complainant: 21-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed


Evidence

The Scene

There was no scene of any probative value specific to the arrest of the Complainant. The area where the initial police contact with the Complainant was made by WO #4 was at the front of and on the snow-covered residential property of CW #3 and another civilian on Ripley Street.

In addition, this was a scheduled response to an incident that occurred in the evening of January 6, 2020, with the diagnosis of the Complainant’s serious injury not made until January 7, 2020, sometime between 8:20 a.m., when the radiologist’s interpretation of the diagnostic imaging of the Complainant’s right hand occurred, and 10:10 a.m., when a physician’s discharge diagnoses were made.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

The SIU canvassed the area for any video or audio recordings, and photographic evidence, and was able to locate the following sources:
  • OPP detachment cells closed-circuit television (CCTV) data.

OPP Detachment Cells CCTV Data

There was nothing in the CCTV data indicating that the Complainant sustained his serious injury at the detachment.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP:
  • Notes from all WOs;
  • Occurrence report and witness statements; and
  • OPP Detachment cells area CCTV data.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

The following documents were also received and reviewed from other parties:
  • The Complainant’s medical record.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU. At about 8:00 p.m. on January 6, 2020, the Complainant assaulted CW #5 as CW #5 was driving home in the area of Ripley Street. The Complainant was severely intoxicated by drugs and alcohol. He had no reason to accost CW #5 other than he was upset and was not of sound mind. The Complainant jumped onto the hood of CW #5’s pickup truck and started punching the windshield with his fists. When the Complainant fell from the hood, CW #5 managed to drive away.

A short time later, the Complainant made his way to premises located on Ripley Street. While there, without any provocation, he punched CW #1. CW #1 defended himself against the Complainant’s attack and the two struggled for a period, in the course of which blows were exchanged between the two. CW #3, the resident of the premises on Ripley Street, came to CW #1’s aid. In due course, CW #3 and CW #1 were able to pin the Complainant on the ground and managed to keep him in that position while awaiting the arrival of the police.

WO #4 was the first to arrive on scene at about 8:20 p.m. He was able to roll the Complainant over onto his front and handcuff him without incident. WO #3 and WO #1 arrived shortly thereafter and assisted WO #4 in escorting the Complainant to WO #4’s cruiser and lodging him in the rear seat.

Following his arrest, the Complainant was taken to the detachment and lodged in cells for a period before an ambulance was summoned and transported him to hospital. The following morning, the Complainant was diagnosed with a fractured right hand.

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 evening of January 6, 2020, the Complainant was arrested by OPP officers on Ripley Street in Ripley, Ontario. He was subsequently taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured right hand. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any of the arresting officers – WO #4, WO #1, and WO #3 –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 required or authorized to do by law. The Complainant had just assaulted CW #5 and CW #1; he was clearly subject to lawful arrest at the hands of WO #4, WO #3 and WO #1. By all accounts, the arrest was uneventful as far as the officers were concerned. While the Complainant certainly did not make things easy for the officers as they took him into custody and then escorted him to WO #4’s cruiser, there is no suggestion that they resorted to anything more than minimal force to place him inside the police vehicle. No punches or strikes of any kind were delivered by the officers. Nor is there any indication of any force being used by the police throughout the Complainant’s time in police custody.

It would appear that the Complainant fractured his right hand prior to the officers’ arrival on Ripley Street when he repeatedly struck the windshield of CW #5’s vehicle or engaged in fisticuffs with CW #1. Be that as it may, there is no evidence that WO #4, WO #1, and/or WO #3 acted other than professionally throughout their dealings with the Complainant. Accordingly, there is no basis to proceed with criminal charges against any police officer in this case and the file is closed.


Date: April 28, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit