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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OCI-064

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 injury that a 31-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On March 21, 2020, at 7:30 p.m., Guelph Police Service (GPS) reported the injury of the Complainant.

GPS advised that on March 21, 2020, at 5:44 p.m., GPS High Enforcement Acton Team (HEAT) police officers went to 400 Waterloo Avenue looking for the Complainant, who was wanted on outstanding warrants. When the police officers arrived, they found the Complainant in the parking lot, and learned that he had just stabbed his father and brother (not life-threateningly). The Complainant was arrested after a struggle and taken to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a fractured ankle. GPS reported that there was blood at the scene, but it had all come from the stabbing. The Complainant would be in hospital overnight and, at some point, would be released to GPS for a bail hearing.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3

Complainants

Complainant: 31-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO #1 Interviewed and notes reviewed
SO #2 Interviewed and notes reviewed


Evidence

The Scene

The scene was in a parking lot located at 400 Waterloo Avenue, Guelph.

Police Communications Recordings


GPS Communications and Computer-Assisted Dispatch (CAD)


The GPS communications audio and CAD were obtained and reviewed.

Per the CAD, starting at 5:45:02 p.m., there was a request for an ambulance for a person with a knife cut to the face and another person with a knife cut to the hand. Starting at 5:50:33 p.m., there was a further request for another ambulance for the suspect who had suffered an injury to his ankle.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the GPS:
  • Arrest Report;
  • CAD Report;
  • Civilian Witness List;
  • Crown Brief Synopsis;
  • Involved Officer List;
  • Involved Officer List-First Names and Badge Numbers;
  • Notes-all WOs;
  • Notes-both CWs;
  • Police Disclosure Package;
  • Supplementary Occurrence Report;
  • Witness Statement Outline and Video Statement-CW #1;
  • Witness Statement Outline and Video Statement-CW #2; and
  • Witness Statement Outline and Audio Statement-the Complainant.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

In addition to the materials received from the GPS, SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials from other sources:
  • The Complainant’s medical records from the Guelph General Hospital;
  • Guelph-Wellington Emergency Medical Services (EMS) - Ambulance Call Report;
  • Three pictures taken by CW #1 after the Incident; and
  • Drawing made by CW #1 during interview.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are clear on the weight of the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with the Complainant, the subject officers and the Complainant’s father and brother, present at the time of the arrest. In the afternoon on March 21, 2020, the Complainant’s family contacted the police concerned about the Complainant’s well-being. The Complainant had developed a problem with illicit drug use and they were hoping the police would assist them with an intervention of sorts to get him the help he needed. Specifically, as the Complainant was wanted on a series of arrest warrants, the family offered to coordinate his arrest with the police so that he could receive treatment once in custody. The police made it clear that they could not guarantee treatment for the Complainant once arrested, but otherwise agreed to take him into custody at an agreed time and place.

SO #1 and SO #2 were dispatched to the parking lot of 400 Waterloo Avenue, where the plan was to arrest the Complainant upon his pre-scheduled arrival. They met with the family and discussed how the arrest would occur, cautioning them not to inject themselves in the Complainant’s apprehension.

At about 5:40 p.m., the Complainant arrived in a vehicle in the company of his father, CW #1. The parties met with the Complainant’s brother, CW #2, and mother, out in front of the vehicle. Within minutes, the officers emerged from the lobby of a neighbouring building at 380 Waterloo Avenue and walked briskly in the direction of the Complainant, attempting to conceal their approach.

The Complainant noticed the officers approaching and tried to flee the area. CW #1 and CW #2 intervened to stop him and the parties became embroiled in a physical altercation. The Complainant stabbed CW #1’s left hand with a knife inflicting a cut to CW #1’s little finger. He also stabbed his brother in the face before being forcibly grounded by his sibling.

The Complainant was still on the ground being held down by his brother as SO #1 and SO #2 arrived and took over. The Complainant resisted arrest but was ultimately subdued by the officers and taken into custody. Responding to SO #1’s request for assistance during the struggle, other officers began arriving at the scene only to find that the Complainant was handcuffed and under arrest.

Ambulances arrived on scene following the arrest in response to the cuts suffered by CW #2 and CW #1, and complaints from the Complainant that one of his feet had been broken. While in hospital, the Complainant was diagnosed with a fractured ankle.

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 was arrested by GPS officers on March 21, 2020 and suffered a fractured right ankle in and around the same time. SO #1 and SO #2 were the arresting officers and identified as subject officers for purposes of the SIU investigation. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either subject officer 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. There were a number of warrants out for the Complainant’s arrest, including for mischief and breach of a recognizance. Accordingly, SO #1 and SO #2 were clearly in the execution of their lawful duty when they sought to apprehend the Complainant. Thereafter, I am also satisfied that neither officer used excessive force during the arrest. By the time they reached the Complainant, he was already on the ground being held down by his brother, CW #2. Indeed, the evidence strongly suggests that the Complainant had already sustained his injury by this point, the result of the takedown at the hands of CW #2. The nature and extent of the force used by the officers was to wrestle with the Complainant in opposition to his vigorous resistance in order to keep him down, disarm him of the knife in his left hand, and secure him in handcuffs. No blows were struck and no weapons were used, though SO #1 did draw his CEW momentarily upon becoming aware of the Complainant’s knife. On this record, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the force used by SO #1 and SO #2 was anything other than commensurate with the Complainant’s resistance.

In the result, whether the Complainant broke his ankle when he was forced to the ground by CW #2 or in the ensuing altercation with the police, with the evidence tilting in favour of the former, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that SO #1 or SO #2 acted unlawfully in arresting the Complainant and in using the force they did to do so. 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