RunnersCruiser and motorbikeCruiser accident
thick blue gradient line

SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-OCI-230

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

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On September 17, 2019 at 12:55 p.m., the Smiths Falls Police Service (SFPS) reported the following:

On September 16, 2019, the Complainant was arrested by Ottawa Police Service (OPS) for outstanding warrants. The SFPS transported the Complainant from Ottawa to the SFPS station. He told an officer that an injury to his eye was caused by an OPS officer during his arrest. The Complainant was taken to the Smiths Falls Hospital and an X-ray was taken, but he was told he had to return in the morning so that a CT scan could be done.

During the morning of September 17, 2019, the Complainant was taken back to the hospital and was diagnosed with having an orbital bone fracture. The Complainant reportedly told medical staff that his injury was caused before his arrest, when he was jumped. The Complainant was currently lodged at the Brockville Jail. 

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 2

Complainants

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


Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Not interviewed
WO #3 Not interviewed
WO #4 Not interviewed
WO #5 Not interviewed


Subject Officers

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


Evidence

The Scene

The scene was on Murray Street in Ottawa in the vicinity of the Shepherds of Good Hope (SGH), a homeless shelter.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

On September 24, 2019, the SIU investigator attended the SGH and met with a person to view and obtain copied video. The SIU investigator copied a short portion of a video, to the SIU issued cell phone, and requested a USB drive copy. The following is a summary of the salient portions of the video.
  • According to “camera 2”, at 11:50 a.m. on September 16, 2019, a blue unmarked OPS cruiser arrives in front of the shelter and parks on King Edward Avenue. A uniformed officer exits the cruiser;
  • At approximately 11:54 a.m., a marked OPS SUV arrives and two uniformed officers exit (later identified as the SO and WO #1);
  • All three OPS officers enter the front entrance to the shelter and conduct a walk through;
  • The OPS officers exit the shelter through the side door, located on Murray Street, and walk west on Murray Street;
  • At approximately 12:12.26 p.m., the three OPS officers approach the Complainant from behind, as the Complainant is straddling his bicycle speaking to two white males. The Complainant has a grey hoodie on, with the hood over his head;
  • The officers approach the Complainant from behind and commence a conversation with the Complainant. The two white males leave the area and walk away west on Murray Street;
  • The SO steps in front of the Complainant and appears to be looking at the Complainant’s right side, while WO #1 takes a position to the Complainant’s right side;
  • The Complainant steps off his bicycle, with a backpack on, and moves closer to WO #1;
  • The Complainant places his bicycle on the ground and moves closer to a chain link fence to the south;
  • The Complainant is positioned up against the fence and he begins to take his backpack off;
  • WO #1 then positions himself directly behind the Complainant and handcuffs the Complainant’s arms behind his back;
  • While WO #1 is controlling the Complainant, the SO picks up the Complainant’s bicycle and stands it up against the fence;
  • The SO then picks up the Complainant’s backpack and places the backpack against the fence, while WO #1 is searching the Complainant. The SO then starts searching the ground behind the Complainant, while the third police officer stands by;
  • The SO then goes to the Complainant’s left side, while the search is being conducted, and retrieves the Complainant’s backpack and searches it;
  • The Complainant is then escorted towards King Edward Street and, at 12:54 p.m., he is placed inside the OPS SUV.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPS and the SFPS:
  • Arrest Report-Smiths Falls Police Service-Sep 16, 2019;
  • Cell Block Video Monitoring Record-Smiths Falls Police Service-Sep 16, 2019;
  • Narrative-WO #1, OPS;
  • Notes by WOs #1 – #3 and #5;

Materials obtained from Other Sources

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from other sources:
  • Video of the incident; and
  • The Complainant’s hospital records.

Incident Narrative

On September 16, 2019, at approximately 12:28 p.m., the Complainant was arrested by WO #1 and the SO of the OPS in the area of Murray Street and King Edward Avenue in the City of Ottawa on an outstanding warrant held by the SFPS. The Complainant was transported to the OPS station, where he was held pending the arrival of SFPS officers. When the Complainant was picked up by the SFPS, the officers noticed that he had swelling and bruising to his left eye and cheek. Allegations arose that the Complainant had been struck by the SO during his arrest. The Complainant was taken to hospital where a CT scan revealed that he had sustained a comminuted fracture involving the wall of the left orbit. The SIU was notified and an investigation commenced.

Relevant Legislation

Section 265 (1), Criminal Code -- Assault

265 (1) A person commits an assault when
(a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;
(b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
(c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.

(2) This section applies to all forms of assault, including sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm and aggravated sexual assault.

Section 267(b), Criminal Code -- Assault causing bodily harm

267 Every person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction who, in committing an assault,
(b) causes bodily harm to the complainant ... 

Analysis and Director's Decision

During the course of the investigation by the SIU, CCTV footage was obtained from the SGH; the video recorded the Complainant’s arrest on September 16, 2019 in its entirety, and fully confirmed the statement of WO #1 as to what occurred during the Complainant’s arrest. While there were four additional WOs identified, as the CCTV footage was definitive, it was determined that no further interviews were required. From a review of this evidence, and for the reasons that follow, I am unable to find that any force was used against the Complainant during his arrest and therefore have no reasonable grounds to believe that any police officer committed a criminal offence in relation to his injury.

The allegation identified the SO as having approached the Complainant from behind, spun the Complainant around, and sucker punched the Complainant to the left side of his face, following which the Complainant fell face first to the ground, at which point the Complainant was advised that he was under arrest. The allegation claimed that the SO had been identified as the SO due to recognition and the name plate pinned to his vest.

In contrast, the video footage of the arrest revealed that it was, in fact, WO #1 who placed the Complainant under arrest. During the course of the arrest, which was fully captured by the CCTV footage, no force was seen to be applied by WO #1, or by the SO; instead, the Complainant is seen to be arrested and handcuffed, with his arms behind his back, without incident by WO #1, following which he was searched by the SO and then escorted to the police cruiser and placed inside.

The statement of WO #1 is materially consistent with the CCTV footage, with WO #1 adding that when he approached the Complainant, he immediately noticed that the Complainant had a badly swollen and bruised left eye.

On the record before me, I find that the reliable evidence conclusively establishes that the Complainant was not assaulted during the course of his arrest on September 16, 2019, nor was any force used against him by either of the police officers involved in his arrest; indeed, the entire incident appears to have been conducted without incident and was completely uneventful, as definitively established by the CCTV footage. I am accordingly unable to form reasonable grounds to believe that the SO or WO #1 committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s injury. As such, no charges will issue and this file is closed.


Date: May 4, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit