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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-OCI-265

Contents:

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

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On November 10, 2019, at 7:45 a.m., the Peel Regional Police (PRP) contacted the SIU and relayed the following.

On November 10, 2019, at about 2:30 a.m., PRP responded to an address on Montjoy Crescent, Brampton, in relation to an out of control man. The man became aggressive towards police and conducted energy weapons (CEW) were deployed in the area of the front porch of the residence. The man fell and struck his head. He was taken to Brampton Civic Hospital (BCH), where he was diagnosed with a temporal skull fracture and a brain bleed. He was also being held on a Form One under the Mental Health Act (MHA).

The Team

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

Complainants

Complainant: 24-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed

Witness Officers

WO Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed and notes reviewed


Evidence

The Scene

The incident took place outside of a single-story semi-detached residence. There is a single-stair platform which separates the front door of the residence from the walkway and driveway. Household items, including utensils, knives, and wood furniture, were strewn across the lawn.

The scene was forensically processed by the SIU, marking several items of interest, including cartridge blast doors, anti-felon identification discs (AFIDs), CEW probes and wires, and a dried reddish stain believed to be blood. [1]

Forensic Evidence


CEWs Download Summary


On November 10, 2019, at 1:42 p.m., an SIU forensic investigator attended PRP 21 Division for the purpose of processing the involved CEWs. Photographs of the SO’s and the WO’s CEWs were taken in addition to the downloading of CEW data.

The data from the SO’s CEW revealed that on November 10, 2019, at 2:37 a.m., the SO deployed cartridge one (C1). A standard five second electric shock was delivered.

The data from the WO’s CEW revealed that on November 10, 2019, at 2:35 a.m., the WO deployed C1 twice at five second intervals. This was followed by a brief deployment of the second cartridge (C2) at 2:39 a.m., for one second, before being put into safe mode.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


Cell Phone Videos Created by CW #1


CW #1 provided the SIU with two video clips that he recorded on November 10, 2019. The first recording was six seconds in length and captured the Complainant throwing items in the kitchen of the residence. The second recording was six seconds in length and captured a partial interaction between police and the Complainant as he was handcuffed. In the second recording, the Complainant can be heard moaning while two police officers, who are standing beside him and leaning over, ask the Complainant to put his hands behind his back.

Police Communications Recordings


911 Communication Recording


On November 10, 2019, CW #2 called 911 and reported the following:
  • CW #2 advised that her roommate [whom CW #2 later identified as the Complainant] was “losing his mind,” doing crazy things and destroying property. When asked if the Complainant suffered from mental health issues, CW #2 responded, “Technically not,” but advised that the Complainant had been drinking since early morning. CW #2 further described the Complainant’s behavior as escalating, a temper tantrum, and “looking to fight”.
  • CW #2 told the operator that police had been to the residence on a weekly basis but had never taken the Complainant away. She provided a detailed description of the Complainant, including the Complainant’s birth marks and clothing. When asked if there were any weapons in the residence, CW #2 responded none that CW #2 was aware of. CW #2 described the Complainant’s behaviour as trying to attract attention and not necessarily that he wanted to kill somebody. However, given that the Complainant was in the kitchen, the Complainant had access to steak knives.
  • CW #2 proceeded to tell the operator that the Complainant had a history of damaging the residence, advising that the Complainant was given an eviction notice for November 1, 2019; however, the Complainant did not leave. CW #2 believed that the landlord was afraid of the Complainant and the Complainant’s father, who also resided at the residence.
  • CW #2 told the operator that the main door of the residence was open, which would allow the police officers to see the Complainant, who was in the kitchen, once they arrived on scene.


Radio Communication Recordings


A review of the radio communications revealed the following:
  • The Complainant was flagged on the system as being mentally disordered and a suicide risk. The Complainant was not believed to be in possession of any weapons aside from regular kitchen knives. The dispatcher advised there were three parties believed to be inside the residence, including the Complainant.
  • The SO advised that he had eyes on the Complainant, who appeared to be throwing items outside of the front door. The WO advised that he was three seconds out from the scene.
  • An ambulance was requested for the Complainant as the Complainant was believed to have sustained a head injury as the result of his fall and was bleeding from the back of the head.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from PRP:
  • Computer-Assisted Dispatch - Event Chronology;
  • 911 Communication Recordings;
  • Radio Communication Recordings;
  • Occurrence Details;
  • PRP Incident Response Directive;
  • Data downloaded from CEWs;
  • Notes-the SO; and
  • Notes-the WO.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

In addition to the materials received from the PRP, SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials from other sources:
  • The Complainant’s BCH Medical Records; and
  • CW #1’s cellphone recordings.

Incident Narrative

The events in question are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with the Complainant, the SO, two CWs and a WO. At about 2:30 a.m., the SO arrived at an address on Montjoy Crescent. He was soon joined by the WO. The SO and the WO were there following a 911 call to police from a tenant of the residence – CW #2 – complaining about the Complainant’s behaviour. An intoxicated and mentally distressed Complainant had been wreaking havoc on property within the home, damaging household items and throwing housewares onto the front lawn, including an assortment of kitchen knives and forks.

From the driveway of the home, the SO and the WO confronted the Complainant as the Complainant stepped in and out the front door, telling the Complainant to show his hands. At one point, an agitated Complainant stepped through the front door again and down the single step staircase to the driveway heading in the officers’ direction. The Complainant placed a hand behind his back and was ordered to show it by the SO and the WO, which the Complainant did. The WO and the SO each had their CEWs drawn and trained on the Complainant. When the Complainant again placed his hands behind his back and advanced toward the SO and the WO, the WO discharged his CEW. The deployment failed to make sufficient contact with the Complainant and was ineffective. The Complainant continued toward the SO and the WO down the driveway and was met with another CEW discharge, this time by the SO. The CEW met its mark and immobilized the Complainant, who fell backward and struck his head on the pavement.

With the Complainant on the ground, the WO and the SO moved in and handcuffed the Complainant without further incident. The Complainant was taken from the scene to hospital and diagnosed with head injuries, including skull fractures.

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 suffered serious head injuries while being arrested outside his residence by two PRP officers in the early morning hours of November 10, 2019. The SO was one of the arresting officers and identified 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 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. Based on information the SO and the WO received on being dispatched to the scene, and their own observations of the Complainant throwing items out of the house onto the front lawn in the middle of the night, I am satisfied that the WO and the SO had sufficient grounds to arrest the Complainant for mischief. Thereafter, I am further satisfied that the force used by the SO and the WO was not excessive in the circumstances. The Complainant’s agitated and violent behaviour inside the home had been on full display for a while, causing CW #2, a tenant in the home, to fear for her safety and prompting CW #2’s call to police. CW #2 was still inside when the SO and the WO confronted the Complainant outside the home. The SO and the WO had good cause to be concerned for CW #2’s safety. The Complainant was clearly not of sound mind at the time and was behaving very aggressively. The SO and the WO were also justifiably concerned for their own safety given the presence of knives within easy reach of the Complainant. Against this backdrop, the officers’ decision to engage the Complainant from a safe distance with the use of their CEWs was, in my view, entirely reasonable. While the first discharge by the WO proved ineffective, the subsequent deployment by the SO did what it was designed to do – temporarily immobilize a subject – thereby allowing the officers time to safely take the Complainant into custody.

In the result, while the Complainant’s head injuries are highly regrettable, the result of his head striking the ground after being immobilized by a CEW, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the SO and the WO acted other than lawfully throughout the encounter. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.


Date: July 14, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit

Footnotes

  • 1) The dried reddish stain was located approximately 30 centimetres away from the single-stair platform of the residence. [Back to text]