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News Release

SIU Concludes Injury Investigation in Penetanguishene

Case Number: 14-PCI-194

Mississauga (19 June, 2015) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge any Ontario Provincial Police officer with any criminal offence in relation to the injuries sustained by a 33-year-old man in August of 2014.

The SIU assigned two investigators and one forensic investigator to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, seven witness officers and two civilian witnesses were interviewed. The subject officer did not participate in an SIU interview and declined to provide a copy of his duty notes, as is his legal right.

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Saturday, August 23, 2014:

  • In the evening hours, an inmate escaped from the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health in Penetanguishene. While escaping over a fence, the man landed flush on his buttocks having fallen several metres. The evidence indicates that the man fractured a vertebra during the fall, but he continued his attempt to escape. He disappeared into a thick brush and wooded area east of the facility.
  • Facility staff attempted to track him down, but eventually contacted the police at approximately 9:15 p.m. for assistance. 
  • A police dog unit and several ERT members were dispatched to the scene. They were all well aware of the man’s criminal history which included many instances of serious violence. It was dark outside and the terrain in the wooded area was treacherous. The subject officer, who in this case was the canine handler, led the team into the woods with his dog on a leash and began a track of the suspect. 
  • Within minutes, the dog had located the man. The dog bit and latched onto his right thigh for a period of time, but eventually let go as the other team members converged on him. The man had rolled onto his front and refused to show his hands to the police despite their repeated directions that he do so. Members of the ERT team deployed two conducted energy weapons (CEWs). An Anti-Riot Weapon Enfield (ARWEN) was also deployed. The officers were eventually able to handcuff the man’s arms behind his back.

Director Loparco said, “Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, police officers are entitled to use force where such force is reasonably necessary in the execution of their lawful duties. There is no question that the total force used against the man was significant. Before he was secured in handcuffs, he had been subjected to two ARWEN blasts, four (and possibly six) CEW discharges, a dog bite resulting in a serious gash that required 18 staples to seal, and a number of hand strikes. The man was not, however, your ordinary threat; he was a very dangerous individual with a proclivity for unprovoked and serious violence, and a penchant for fabricating weapons. The officers had reason to be concerned that he was armed with a weapon and would be prepared to use it. Visibility was poor, the area was thick with woods and brush, and the terrain was uneven. In the circumstances, the officers’ decision to approach the man with extreme caution, and to resort to their weapons when he refused to show his hands, was understandable.  Each of them made an independent assessment of the threat level from their perspectives and took action accordingly. How and why the dog came to bite the man is unclear as its handler, the subject officer, chose not to provide a statement. What is clear is that no further force was used against the man after he was handcuffed.”

Director Loparco concluded, “In the final analysis, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the officers were proceeding lawfully to re-assert custody over the man, and that the nature and extent of the force they used did not fall outside the range of what was reasonably necessary in the circumstances.”

The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must

  • consider whether an officer has committed a criminal offence  in connection with the incident under investigation
  • depending on the evidence, lay a criminal charge against the officer if appropriate or close the file without any charges being laid
  • report the results of any investigations to the Attorney General. 

Monica Hudon, monica.hudon@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342