SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OCI-081
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Mandate of the SIU
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.
Freedom of Information and Protection of 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.
- 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.
Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)
Other proceedings, processes, and investigationsInformation 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.
“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 a serious injury sustained by a 29-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn April 12, 2020, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant.
The OPS reported that on April 12, 2020, at approximately 7:38 a.m., the Complainant called the OPS and asked for assistance in retrieving his dog from his parents’ residence. Further investigation revealed that the Complainant had been asked to leave his parents’ residence for being drunk and disorderly. When police officers arrived, the Complainant was waiting outside. He told the police officers his version of what was going on. When the police officers went to the door to speak with the parents, they told the Complainant to come back when he had sobered up. The Complainant became aggressive at this point and ran at his parents. The police officers intervened and grounded him. When he went to stand up, the Complainant said he had a sore right hip. Emergency Medical Services transported him to the Ottawa Civic Hospital where it was determined that there was a facture to his right hip. The OPS did not proceed with any charges, but the Complainant was issued a trespass warning for his parents’ residence.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Complainant:29 -year-old male interviewed
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
Subject OfficersSO Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right.
The SceneThe Complainant was taken to the ground on the lawn of a home on Rustic Hills Crescent, Ottawa, beside his car which was parked on the roadway outside his parents’ house to the north of the driveway.
Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) Footage of Rustic Hills Crescent
The SO walked out from the residence and stopped approximately two to three metres from the Complainant. They engaged in conversation for the next two minutes. The Complainant moved forward toward the police officers. Both police officers attempted to stop him, but he turned to his left along the passenger side of his vehicle. The SO took physical control and pushed the Complainant against the passenger side of his vehicle. The Complainant was visibly struggling against the SO’s efforts to hold him in place. WO #1 moved forward to assist. WO #1 delivered two knee strikes to the left thigh of the Complainant. Both police officers were holding an arm and yelled at the Complainant to put his hands behind his back. The Complainant refused to comply and said he was leaving.
The SO spun the Complainant around in a swinging motion to the right. WO #1 was still holding his left side. The Complainant fell forward to the ground with his head toward the house. The view of the Complainant on the ground was obscured by parked vehicles and his body could not be seen. Both police officers were bent over, above him. The SO was on his right side and WO #1 on his left. The police officers were still yelling for him to put his hands behind his back. The SO appeared to strike the Complainant and told him to give him his hands. It could not be ascertained from the CCTV footage if the police officers were kneeling on the Complainant or standing up bent over him. The Complainant’s mother was on the front porch watching. The Complainant yelled he was leaving, and the police were beating him up for no reason. CW #1 was standing directly beside the police officers and then walked out to the roadway and picked something up near the front of her son’s car (believed to be eyeglasses).
The police officers attempted to stand the Complainant to his feet. He yelled as if in pain and said the police officers had hurt his leg. He said his leg and his hip hurt. The police officers seated him on the ground. The SO walked to the front door with CW #1 and then returned to speak with the Complainant. He brought a chair from the house for the Complainant to sit on, but he declined. The police officers attempted to have the Complainant stand again; however, he screamed in pain and they sat him down again. An OPS sergeant and an ambulance arrived. The paramedics dealt with the Complainant.
Police Communications Recordings
The Complainant told the dispatcher that he had paid for the dog and he wanted it back. He added that if he did not get it back that someone would get hurt. When the dispatcher asked him to calm down, he apologized. The dispatcher advised the Complainant that the police could not force the parents to surrender the dog. He told the dispatcher it did not matter and to send the police and if they did not, he was going to hurt someone. He then hung up the telephone.
The second call at 7:38 a.m. was also from the Complainant. He asked where the police were and when the dispatcher asked for the address, he provided it and then told her the police had just arrived.
OPS Radio Communications
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPS:
- Computer-Assisted Dispatch;
- OPS - Arrest Policy;
- OPS - Use of Force Policy;
- Narrative Text of WO #1 and WO #2
- Scene Photos; and
- Provincial Offences Act Warning Ticket.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesInvestigators also obtained and reviewed the following material:
- CCTV footage of Rustic Hills Crescent.
Once at the home, the SO approached the residence to speak with CW #1. She confirmed that the Complainant had been asked to leave the residence because of his behaviour overnight and explained that she was happy to provide him the dog once he was sober. From the driveway of the home, the officers explained to the Complainant, standing by his vehicle parked curbside in front of the house, that he was not welcome inside the residence and the dog would not be provided until a later date. That news prompted the irate Complainant to walk towards the officers onto the front lot of the home. The SO reacted by extending his right arm to push the Complainant backward. The Complainant took a step back, and then made his way parallel along the front lot of the home. As the Complainant did so, he was pinned against the passenger side of his vehicle by both officers who thereafter attempted to effect his arrest.
The Complainant resisted the officers’ efforts to secure him in handcuffs. After a short struggle on their feet, and two knee strikes by WO #1 into the Complainant’s legs, the SO forced the Complainant to the ground on the home’s front lot. The Complainant continued to resist on the ground and was met with a further hand strike by the SO and pressure applied by the officer’s thumb behind one of the Complainant’s ears, whereupon the officers were able to wrest control of the Complainant’s arms and restrain them behind his back.
Following his arrest, the Complainant complained of pain in his right leg. An ambulance was summoned to the scene and the Complainant taken to hospital, where he was treated for a fractured pelvis.
Section 25(1), Criminal Code -- Protection of persons acting under authority
(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,
Section 2(1), Trespass to Property Act -- Trespass an offence
(a) without the express permission of the occupier, the proof of which rests on the defendant,
(i) enters on premises when entry is prohibited under this Act, or(ii) engages in an activity on premises when the activity is prohibited under this Act; or
(b) does not leave the premises immediately after he or she is directed to do so by the occupier of the premises or a person authorized by the occupier,
Section 9, Trespass to Property Act – Arrest without warrant on premises9 (1) A police officer, or the occupier of premises, or a person authorized by the occupier may arrest without warrant any person he or she believes on reasonable and probable grounds to be on the premises in contravention of section 2.
Analysis and Director's Decision
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. Having been duly warned by the SO that he would be arrested for trespassing if he came back onto the property, I am satisfied that the officer had sufficient grounds to take the Complainant into custody pursuant to section 9(1) of the Trespass to Property Act when he walked defiantly onto the front lot of the home. Thereafter, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the force used by the officers fell within the range of what was reasonably necessary to effect the Complainant’s arrest. When grabbed by the SO and WO #1 and directed to put his arms behind his back, the Complainant refused to do so and struggled against their efforts to control his arms. In the circumstances, I am unable to fault the officers when, after half-a-minute or so had elapsed and two knee strikes had failed to subdue the Complainant, they decided to take him to the ground. In that position, the officers could expect to better manage any further resistance on the part of the Complainant. Once on the ground, the Complainant continued to refuse to surrender his arms and was met with a short right-handed strike to what appears to have been his torso by the SO and pressure applied by the officer’s thumb behind one of the Complainant’s ears – a pain compliance technique. The officers continued to grapple with the Complainant and were eventually able to affix his arms in handcuffs without any more blows having been delivered. On this record, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the force used by the officers was other than commensurate with the physical challenge the Complainant presented to being placed in custody.
In the result, while I accept that the Complainant’s pelvis was fractured when he was taken down or during the struggle on the ground, perhaps as one or the other officer placed a knee on his back to restrict his movement, I am satisfied that the SO and WO #1 acted lawfully throughout their encounter with the Complainant. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.
Date: May 25, 2020
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
The signed English original report is authoritative, and any discrepancy between that report and the French and English online versions should be resolved in favour of the original English report.