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News Release

SIU Investigation Finds No Reasonable Grounds for Criminal Charges in VIA Rail Arrest in Cornwall

Case Number: 15-OCI-095

Mississauga (18 December, 2015) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit has concluded that no criminal charges will be laid in an incident inside a VIA Rail train station in Cornwall in May. 

SIU Director Tony Loparco found there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any of the three subject officers committed a criminal offence when the trio arrested a 43-year-old man.  The man suffered several cracked ribs and a broken nose during the incident. 

The SIU had assigned five investigators and one forensic investigator to probe the circumstances of this incident.  Two of the subject officers participated in SIU interviews and provided copies of their duty notes.  The third officer declined to be interviewed or provide a copy of his duty notes, as is his legal right.

The investigation – which also included detailed surveillance video from inside the train station – found the following: 
  • Just before 10:15 p.m. on May 17th, Cornwall Community Police officers were called to the Via Rail train station.  They were investigating reports of a suspicious person who had been watching the trains for several days.
  • When two of the officers arrived, they found the man in a nearly empty train station.
  • However, when they approached him, the man walked into the washroom.
  • The officers followed him into the small washroom and requested he step out into the lobby.
  • Agitated and refusing to leave the washroom, the man began to rapidly move his hands in and out of his pockets.
  • Officers attempted to get the man to move to a safer location to commence their investigation.
  • The man began to flail his arms and push one of the officers, at which point the officers attempted to gain control of the 43-year-old.
  • When the man did not submit to police attempts to control him, officers deployed a CEW, struck the man with a baton, and delivered several knee strikes before the man stopped resisting and was handcuffed.    

Director Loparco said, “The 43-year-old man does not speak English and has a delayed mental capacity.  As was later explained by the man and a case worker, the man loves trains. Unfortunately, his attempts to communicate what he meant by his actions were unsuccessful because the officers could not understand him.

“That said, I cannot find – on reasonable grounds – that the subject officers’ actions resulted in criminal liability.  The officers were acting pursuant to their common law duties to preserve the peace and protect the public when they approached the man. When he refused to leave the small washroom and started reaching into his clothing, it was appropriate to place him in an investigative detention to ensure the officers’ safety.

“From all accounts – the man’s, the officers’, and the surveillance footage – it appears the officers did not use more force than was reasonably necessary, bearing in mind their honest but reasonable mistake about the man’s initial conduct, his subsequent resistance, and that in such situations officers cannot be expected to measure their force with exactitude: R. v. Nasogaluak, 2010 SCC 6.”  

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. 

Jason Gennaro, jason.gennaro@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-641-1897 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 1897