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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OCI-110

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 37-year-old woman (the “Complainant”) suffered.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On May 11, 2020, at 2:31 a.m., the Peel Regional Police (PRP) reported the following:

On May 10, 2020, at 11:47 p.m., the Complainant called a crisis line and stated that she was going to commit suicide. Seven PRP Tactical Rescue Unit (TRU) officers responded to her residence and confronted her on the front porch. The Complainant was struck with a Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) and then grounded, striking the pavement.

The Complainant was transported to Credit Valley Hospital (CVH) and diagnosed with a fractured nasal bone. The Complainant was detained under the authority of the Mental Health Act (MHA).

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators (FIs) assigned: 1


Complainants

Complainant: 37-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Civilian Witnesses

CW Interviewed

Witness Officers

WO #1 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary [1]
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
WO #7 Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO Declined interview, as is the subject officer’s legal right. Notes received and reviewed.


Evidence

The Scene

The Complainant was living with her parents at an address on Loyalist Drive on May 10, 2020. The Complainant’s parents’ home was a fully detached home with a double car garage and a small sized front porch with three steps leading to the front door. The house was situated in a residential neighborhood. From the PRP Scene of Crime Officer’s photos that were taken shortly after the incident, there was a white-coloured vehicle parked on the driveway and a concrete-stoned walkway leading up to the front porch. Blood spatter/droplets could be seen on the concrete walkway with a pair of black-coloured running shoes next to it. There was also a light on at the time the photos were taken shining over the front of the garage door and the front porch.

Forensic Evidence


The SO’s CEW Download Report Summary


On May 12, 2020, the SIU FI photographed and downloaded the CEW that the SO had discharged at the Complainant on May 10, 2020. The download report showed that the CEW had been discharged on May 10, 2020 at 11:45 p.m., for a five second duration.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

The SIU canvassed the area for any video or audio recordings, and photographic evidence, but was not able to locate any.

Police Communications Recordings


Communications / Intergraph Computer-Assisted Dispatch (I/CAD) Recording Summary


On May 10, 2020, at 10:38 p.m., a crisis worker called the police and asked that a wellness check be done on the Complainant because the Complainant was crying and had stated that she had bought a gun the day before and it was beside her ready to be used. The Complainant said that she wanted to “blow her brains out.” The crisis worker described the Complainant. The crisis worker also advised that the gun in question may have been in the Complainant’s jacket and that the Complainant was outside her home smoking a cigarette. The crisis worker said that on March 19, 2020, the Complainant had reported she had attempted to overdose on drugs.

The dispatcher requested the TRU team and tactical medic to attend an address on Shetani Place; however, upon arrival of the TRU team at the address on Shetani Place, they advised the dispatcher that they could not see anyone outside of the home.

The Complainant’s cell phone was pinged and at 11:28 p.m., the TRU team were eventually re-directed to a house located at an address on Loyalist Drive.

At approximately 11:36 p.m., the TRU team advised that they had a visual of the Complainant.

At 11:47 p.m., a police officer [now known to be WO #7] was requesting a uniformed police officer speak with “parents” [now known to be the CW and a man].

On May 11, 2020, at 12:03 a.m., it was advised that the Complainant was on board an ambulance on route to CVH.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the PRP:
  • Photos of the address on Loyalist Drive, Mississauga;
  • Communications recordings;
  • I/CAD report;
  • Audio Copy Report [Phone];
  • Audio Copy Report [Radio];
  • Computer-Assisted Dispatch Incident History;
  • The Complainant’s Person Details;
  • Involved Officer Witness List;
  • Notes-all WOs;
  • Notes-the SO;
  • PRP Directive GP Incident Response;
  • PRP Disclosure Log; and
  • PRP Occurrence Report.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

In addition to the materials received from the PRP, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials from other sources:
  • The Complainant’s medical record from CVH.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are relatively clear on the weight of the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with the Complainant, a civilian witness who observed portions of the events and several witness officers who participated in the operation that culminated in the Complainant’s arrest. As was his legal right, the SO refused to interview with the SIU; he did, however, authorize the release of his incident notes.

About 11:00 p.m. on May 10, 2020, a PRP TRU team was mobilized to respond to an incident involving the Complainant and a reported firearm. Distraught and feeling suicidal, the Complainant had earlier placed a call to a crisis centre wherein she had explained that she had purchased a gun the day before and was planning on harming herself with it. The crisis centre relayed the information to police, including the fact that the firearm might be in the Complainant’s jacket.

The TRU team had the Complainant’s cell phone pinged and discovered she was calling from her parents’ home at an address on Loyalist Drive, Mississauga. Arriving in the area shortly after 11:30 p.m., they convened north of the address and made their way on foot toward the home. At the home, located on the east side of Loyalist Drive, the officers observed the Complainant sitting on a step of the front porch, holding a cigarette in her right hand and her cell phone in her left hand.

The Complainant was surprised to see the officers converging upon her and failed to adequately respond to their directions. She delayed when she was ordered to put down her cell phone and place herself prone on the ground.

The SO was among the officers closest to the Complainant. As she moved to stand up and turn to her right, the SO grabbed hold of her left shoulder and forced her to the ground. The Complainant’s face impacted the ground, likely resulting in her nose injury at this time. With the Complainant still prone on the ground, the SO proceeded to discharge his CEW into her buttocks when he heard WO #2 indicating that she (the Complainant) was reaching for something. Shortly thereafter, the Complainant was handcuffed and taken into custody.

Following her arrest, the Complainant was examined by a paramedic at the scene and then taken to hospital, where her fractured nose was examined and she was involuntarily admitted for psychiatric examination.

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.

Section 17, Mental Health Act -- Action by police officer

17 Where a police officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a person is acting or has acted in a disorderly manner and has reasonable cause to believe that the person,
(a) has threatened or attempted or is threatening or attempting to cause bodily harm to himself or herself;
(b) has behaved or is behaving violently towards another person or has caused or is causing another person to fear bodily harm from him or her; or
(c) has shown or is showing a lack of competence to care for himself or herself,
and in addition the police officer is of the opinion that the person is apparently suffering from mental disorder of a nature or quality that likely will result in,
(d) serious bodily harm to the person;
(e) serious bodily harm to another person; or
(f) serious physical impairment of the person,
and that it would be dangerous to proceed under section 16, the police officer may take the person in custody to an appropriate place for examination by a physician.

Analysis and Director's Decision

On May 10, 2020, the Complainant suffered a broken nose while being apprehended by PRP TRU officers. The SO was among the arresting officers and the one most likely responsible for the Complainant’s injury. Accordingly, he was 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. I accept that the officers were proceeding to lawfully apprehend the Complainant under the MHA. Given the Complainant’s significant inebriation at the time and her expressed desire to harm herself with a gun she claimed to have in her possession, I am satisfied that the officers were within their rights in apprehending the Complainant under section 17 of the MHA.

I am further satisfied that the officers and, more specifically, the SO, did not use excessive force into taking the Complainant into custody. Owing perhaps to her impairment by alcohol at the time and being suddenly confronted in the dark by tactical officers wielding weapons, the Complainant did not respond promptly to directions being given by the officers. The Complainant’s failure to do so increased their fear, reasonably in my view, that she might be in the possession of a firearm. Even though the officers did not observe any firearm on the Complainant’s person, they had been advised that the weapon might be in her jacket. In the circumstances, when the Complainant stood up, I am satisfied that the SO acted reasonably in quickly and forcefully taking her to the ground as that action would have the effect of rendering more difficult any effort on the Complainant’s part to access a firearm. Similarly, I am satisfied that the CEW discharge was justified when it appeared to several of the officers that the Complainant might be reaching with her left hand under her body for something. I appreciate that the Complainant was a relatively small physical challenge to the half-dozen or so TRU officers who confronted her on the porch. That said, the officers had information suggesting that she had a firearm, a fact which, if true, could easily have neutralized the officers’ size and numbers advantage. In the circumstances, while options short of a weapon’s deployment might have been available, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the SO’s choice in the heat of the moment fell afoul of the latitude conferred on officers in measuring the degree of their responsive force.

In the result, as I am satisfied that the officers conducted themselves lawfully at all times throughout their encounter with the Complainant notwithstanding her injury, there are no grounds for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.


Date: September 14, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit

Endnotes

  • 1) WO #1’s notes were reviewed, and it was determined WO #1 was not involved in the apprehension of the Complainant as he waited across the street for the arrival of the tactical unit. [Back to text]