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SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OCI-135

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 injury that a 40-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On June 12, 2020, at 5:02 a.m., the Peel Regional Police (PRP) reported the following:

On June 11, 2020, at 6:46 p.m., PRP police officers responded to a room in a motel for a domestic-related call. The Subject Officer (SO) and the Witness Officer (WO) responded, and arrested the Complainant in the room. A struggle occurred which continued out into the parking lot where the Complainant was grounded. An ambulance was called because the Complainant was bleeding.

The Complainant was taken to 12 Division and released on an undertaking before being transported to 2 District York Regional Police (YRP) on June 12, 2020, at 12:27 a.m.

The Complainant complained of sore ribs and was taken by ambulance to MacKenzie Health Hospital (MHH) where he was diagnosed with a fractured rib. The Complainant was later returned to 2 District to await a bail hearing.

The Team

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

Complainants

Complainant: 40-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed

Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed

Witness Officers

WO Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right.


Evidence

The Scene

The motel was located on Dundas Street East, Mississauga. The motel was a single-level building that had several rooms with front windows. The main office was located on the west end of the building. There were several parking spots by each room of the building. The room where the Complainant was arrested was located on the southeast corner of the building. The large front window of the room was a double-paned window and the outer pane had been broken inwards. There were obvious signs of damage and disturbance within the room.

There were several parking spots in the front of each room and there was a large rear parking area. There were large-sized parked transport trucks and trailers in this area and most of the them were parked along a bush/shrub line. The ground towards the trailers and trucks appeared to be gravel.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

The SIU canvassed the area for any video or audio recordings, and photographic evidence, and was able to locate the following:
  • The motel’s closed-circuit television (CCTV) video; and
  • A social worker’s cellphone video.


The Motel’s CCTV Video Summary (times depicted per time stamp on recording)


A camera mounted on the motel was situated on the east wall, near the rear of the building and directly over the doorway to the room where the Complainant was arrested, and faced north toward Dundas Street. A second camera was mounted on the rear wall of the motel and pointed to the south end of the building and into the parking lot behind the motel.

On June 11, 2020, at about 6:07 p.m., the Complainant was seen approaching the room. A short time later, the Complainant’s girlfriend was seen walking out of the room into the parking lot area and the Complainant was seen following. The Complainant’s girlfriend returned to the room. A few seconds later, CW #2 walked from the parking lot to the room, followed by the Complainant. Moments later, the Complainant and CW #2 engaged in a verbal argument outside of the room. At 6:08 p.m., the Complainant left the area on a bicycle. At 6:11 p.m., CW #1 arrived and entered the room with CW #2.

At 6:32 p.m., the Complainant returned on a bicycle, dropped the bike in the parking lot area and approached the room. CW #2 walked out of the room and approached the parking lot. It appeared that the Complainant lunged at CW #2 and then slapped a tablet, which CW #2 was holding, out of her hands.

At 6:33 p.m., the Complainant could be seen banging on the front window of the room with open palms. The Complainant left the area again. At 6:40 p.m., CW #1 returned to the room and was speaking with two women [now known to be social workers].

At 6:50 p.m., the Complainant returned to the room, pounded on the front window again with both of his fists, and eventually broke the glass of the window with his right hand. The Complainant then left.

At 6:51 p.m., the SO arrived in his cruiser and drove towards the rear of the motel.

At 6:59 p.m., the WO attended the room and spoke with CW #2 and the Complainant’s girlfriend.


A Social Worker’s Cell Phone Video Summary


On June 11, 2020, a social worker for the Peel Family Shelter system attended the motel to speak with two clients [now known to be CW #2 and the Complainant’s girlfriend] because they had experienced trouble with a man [now known to be the Complainant]. The social worker arrived just prior to the SO’s arrival.

The social worker’s cell phone video captured some of the interaction. It also captured a one-minute long video just after the SO’s arrival. The video showed a tractor trailer unit parked behind the motel and a cruiser parked beside it with the driver’s door open. The SO was standing beside the open door and he could be heard saying, “Get down – get down on the ground,” but the Complainant was not visible in the video. The camera position moved closer and appeared to zoom in on the activity behind the trailer. The Complainant was visible, face down on the ground and moving his head. The SO was leaning forward over him, yelling, “Stay down – put your hands behind your back.” The Complainant appeared to be compliant.

The SO knelt on the buttocks area of the Complainant while he took out his handcuffs and placed them on the Complainant’s wrists to the back.

There was no footage showing how the Complainant landed on the ground.

Police Communications Recordings


PRP 911 / Radio Communications Summary


On June 11, 2020, at about 6:50 p.m., CW #1 called 911 and reported that the Complainant had assaulted CW #2 and damaged the room by throwing furniture around. CW #1 provided a description of the Complainant and indicated he was riding a bicycle. Another call was received from CW #4, who reported that the Complainant had assaulted CW #2 and thrown her to the ground.

CW #1 called again to report that the Complainant had returned to the motel and had broken a window.

A dispatcher dispatched the SO and the WO to the motel. At 7:04 p.m., the SO advised that he had the Complainant on the ground behind the motel, and approximately a minute later, the SO advised that the Complainant’s hands were in handcuffs. At 7:06 p.m., the WO advised that he was at the motel and requested Emergency Medical Services because the Complainant had minor cuts to his hand, and was possibly “under the influence”.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the PRP:
  • Audio Copy Report-Phone Calls;
  • Audio Copy Report-Radio;
  • Computer-assisted Dispatch (CAD) Incident History;
  • Prisoner Details Report;
  • Record of Arrest;
  • Copy of the WO’s duty notes;
  • Witness Statement-CW #2; and
  • Witness Statement-the Complainant’s girlfriend.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

In addition to the materials received from the PRP, the SIU also obtained the following records from other sources:
  • The Complainant’s medical record from MHH;
  • Cell phone video from a social worker; and
  • CCTV video footage from the motel.

Incident Narrative

The following scenario emerges from the weight of the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with the Complainant, the SO, a witness officer who arrived following the Complainant’s arrest, and several civilian eyewitnesses to portions of the events in question. At about 6:50 p.m. on June 11, 2020, the PRP received a 911 call from the manager of a motel on Dundas Street East in Mississauga. He had called to report that a man – a guest of one of the persons residing at the motel – had damaged property in the resident’s unit and assaulted the resident’s roommate. Police officers were dispatched to investigate.

The Complainant was the subject of the manager’s complaint. The Complainant had tossed a television off its stand to the floor. When CW #2 – one of the two residents of the room – reported the Complainant’s behaviour to the manager, he assaulted her before leaving the area. The Complainant returned a short time later on his bicycle, whereupon he banged on a window pane and broke the glass.

The SO arrived within minutes of the 911 call and was directed to the back area of the property by motel guests. The Complainant was on his bicycle attempting to the flee the scene. The SO drove up to him in his cruiser and ordered him to stop. The Complainant kept riding toward a commercial trailer at the rear of the lot, at which point he fell off his bike. In short order, the Complainant was handcuffed and taken into custody by the SO.

Following his arrest, the Complainant was transferred by PRP to YRP, which had an outstanding warrant for the Complainant’s arrest. While in the custody of the YRP, the Complainant complained of chest pain and was taken to MHH, where he was diagnosed with a rib fracture.

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

In the evening of June 11, 2020, the Complainant suffered a fractured rib while being arrested by the SO of the PRP. The SO 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 authorized or required to do by law. I am satisfied that the SO was acting lawfully when he pursued the Complainant with the intention of taking him into custody. Based on what the SO had learned of the Complainant’s behaviour via the 911 call and the Complainant’s flight from police upon his arrival, there were grounds in my view to reasonably conclude the Complainant had committed assault and mischief. The issue turns to the propriety of the force used by the SO.

As to how precisely the Complainant fell from his bike and was arrested, the evidence is discrepant. For example, one body of evidence indicates that the Complainant was tackled from behind by the SO. The SO, on the other hand, indicates that the Complainant fell from his bike of his own accord as he attempted a sharp turn. There is no suggestion, in any of the evidence, of any undue force by the SO following the Complainant’s fall.

While the totality of the evidence, in my view, tends to favour the SO’s account of what happened, I am prepared to proceed on the basis of the more incriminating rendition of events. According to this account, the Complainant was in full flight from the SO attempting to flee the scene of an assault when the SO knocked him off his bicycle. In view of the dynamics of the situation, involving parties in motion, I am unable to reasonably conclude on this record that the SO’s conduct was excessive or unreasonable. Indeed, as the Complainant had made it clear through his actions that he had no intention of surrendering, it is difficult to imagine how the SO might have adopted force that was of a kind lesser than physically intervening to stop the Complainant’s forward progress and effect his arrest.

In the result, while I accept that the Complainant’s fractured rib resulted when he fell from his bicycle and impacted the ground, there is insufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that the SO acted other than lawfully throughout the incident. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.


Date: September 28, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit