SIU Director: No Charges in Ottawa Arrest that Resulted in a Broken Ankle
Case Number: 15-OCI-152
Other News Releases Related to Case 15-OCI-152
(16 June, 2016) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit has determined there are no reasonable grounds to believe a criminal offence was committed when a 28-year-old man’s ankle was broken during an arrest in Ottawa.
The SIU had assigned five investigators and one forensic investigator to probe the circumstances of this incident.
The subject officer participated in an SIU interview but did not provide a copy of his duty notes, as is his legal right. The 28-year-old complainant refused to be interviewed. Eight civilians and 12 witness officers were interviewed.
The SIU investigation found the following:
- Sometime after 7:00 a.m. on July 14, 2015, a fight started between two roommates in a residence at Lilas Private, a housing complex in Ottawa.
- One of the men, the complainant, suffered several cuts to his face. He left the residence. Shortly after, three gunshots were heard.
- The Ottawa Police Service was called about shots fired. Officers arrived at the complex and located the complainant inside a building washroom.
- The man was handcuffed and searched. During the search, the man became belligerent and attempted to head butt an officer.
- The man was instructed to get on the ground. He refused and the subject officer swept out his legs.
- Once on the ground, the man continued to struggle. The subject officer noticed the man’s right leg was not controlled, and the officer asked a paramedic at the scene to control the man’s feet.
- After the man was subdued, he complained of leg pain. He was taken to Ottawa General Hospital and treated for a broken right ankle.
SIU Director Tony Loparco said, “There is no question that the subject officer was acting in the lawful course of his duties when he took physical control of the man. Another officer was attempting to perform a search incident to arrest, and the man tried to head butt the officer during that search. The subject officer actions were performed with an aim to ensuring the other officer’s safety and facilitating the search. The only issue that I need to determine is whether the force employed went beyond what was required in the circumstances.
“In all of the circumstances there is no reasonable basis for a finding of excessive force. Directing the man to the ground was a physical response in furtherance of a lawful exercise of police power. The grounding was performed because the man did not comply with police directions to get on the ground.
“The likely cause of the man’s injuries is the paramedic stepping on his right foot. Another possible explanation is the leg sweep performed by the subject officer, although that is less likely given that the man’s complaints of pain originate after the paramedic stepped on him. While the paramedic’s action was performed at the behest of the subject officer, it is unlikely that either the precise nature of force applied or the accompanying degree of force could be attributed to his direction. There would therefore be an issue with causation if charges were to proceed. This however, is a moot point.
“The force employed to gain control of the man was no more than was necessary and reasonable in the circumstances. It was directed towards the obvious aim of gaining control of him, and no further force was applied once that goal had been achieved. Moreover, the subject officer demonstrated a rational and measured approach to his application of force. He issued verbal commands in an attempt to deescalate the situation and ensured that the man landed on a grassy area when he took him to the ground. It cannot be said that said that he exceeded the parameters set out under s. 25(1) of the Criminal Code.
“The facial injuries that the man sustained can safely be attributed to the actions of his roommate, and therefore beyond the purview of this Unit. While the broken ankle is a significant injury, it is an unfortunate outcome resulting from the man’s defiance of a lawful direction. As a result, no charges will issue.”
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.
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