RunnersCruiser accidentCruiser and motorbike
thick blue gradient line

SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-TCI-126

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

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On May 30, 2020, at 9:25 a.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) notified the SIU of an injury suffered by the 37-year-old Complainant.

According to the TPS, at 4:57 a.m., four TPS officers responded to an address on Jeffcoat Drive after a Civilian Witness (CW) called police to report her son was violent and making threats of suicide. When the officers tried to apprehend the Complainant, he became violent and was subdued. He was taken to Etobicoke General Hospital, where he was diagnosed as having suffered a broken nose.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3

Complainant:

37-year-old male interviewed


Civilian Witnesses

CW Interviewed

Witness Officers

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


Subject Officers

SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed


Evidence

The Scene

The incident occurred inside a main-floor bedroom in a home located on Jeffcoat Drive in Toronto.

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


Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Report


At 5:03 a.m., TPS officers entered the residence. At 5:26 a.m. the officers reported they had the Complainant in custody.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
  • A copy of the communications recordings;
  • The CAD Event Details Report;
  • Email Disclosure from TPS for May 30, 2020;
  • General Occurrence Report;
  • The notebook entries of all designated witness officers;
  • TPS policies regarding communicable diseases; and
  • The Versadex history for the Complainant.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are clear on the weight of the evidence and may be summarized in short order. At about 5:00 a.m. on May 30, 2020, the Complainant’s mother, the CW, called police expressing concerns about her son. She reported that the Complainant possibly had a knife and was trying to kill himself, later clarifying that he had attempted suicide in the past. Officers were dispatched to the Complainant’s home on Jeffcoat Drive.

WO #1 and WO #2 were the first to arrive at the residence, followed by the SO, and WO #3 and WO #4. The officers spoke with the CW before turning their attention to the Complainant. The Complainant explained that he had come home very late and argued with his parents. He told the officers he was going to bed and then proceeded to turn off his bedroom light and close the door on the officers. The officers opened the door and indicated they were still conducting their investigation.

Following a check by WO #1 via her police cruiser computer, indicating that the Complainant had previously been apprehended under the Mental Health Act (MHA), the decision was made to arrest the Complainant and take him to hospital for psychiatric examination. The Complainant objected to his apprehension, noting that he had no intention of attending hospital given the risk of contracting COVID-19. When the officers placed their hands on the Complainant to take him into custody, the Complainant physically resisted. He flailed his arms and legs at the officers, striking some of them in the process. At one point, he spat at the SO, who reacted by punching the Complainant in the nose.

Soon after the punch, the officers took the Complainant to the floor and handcuffed him. He was escorted outside the residence, placed in an ambulance and taken to hospital where his fractured nose was diagnosed. He also underwent psychiatric assessment at hospital and was released later that morning into the custody of the police.

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 30, 2020, the Complainant suffered a broken nose in the course of his apprehension by TPS officers. The SO was among the arresting officers. The officer was responsible for breaking the Complainant’s nose and, therefore, 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 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 accept that the officers were in the lawful discharge of their duties when they decided to apprehend the Complainant under section 17 of the MHA. Given what they learned from the CW of the Complainant’s suicidal ideations and violent behaviour that day, and his history of attempted suicide, they had good cause to believe that the Complainant was in a state of mental disorder associated with a risk of harm to himself or his parents.

With respect to the force used to arrest the Complainant, there is insufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that it was excessive. The Complainant strenuously resisted arrest, kicking and punching some of the officers in the process as he flailed his limbs. When the Complainant spat at the SO, striking the SO and WO #1 with some of the spittle, the officers reacted by punching the Complainant. WO #1 directed her blow to the Complainant’s chest; the SO struck the Complainant in the nose. In my view, the punches, delivered in direct response to being spat at by the Complainant, were commensurate with the Complainant’s assaultive behaviour and fell within the range of reasonable force in the moment to deter any further violence of the sort.

In the final analysis, while I accept that the SO broke the Complainant’s nose when he punched him in the face, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the officer’s force fell within the limits of legal justification. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges and the file is closed.


Date: November 9, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit