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News Release

No Criminal Wrongdoing in Case where Toronto Officer Fired Taser Multiple Times

Case Number: 16-TCI-009

Mississauga, ON (7 October, 2016) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Tony Loparco, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against any Toronto Police Service officer in relation to an incident that occurred in January of 2016 in Scarborough.  

Three investigators and two forensic investigators were assigned to this incident.

The SIU interviewed 10 civilian witnesses and nine witness officers. The subject officer participated in an SIU interview and provided a copy of his duty notes.
The Unit’s investigation also included the review of conducted energy weapons (CEW) data and police radio communications.

The SIU investigation found the following:
  • At approximately 8:40 a.m. on January 11, 2016, a tenant living in a basement apartment called 911 saying there was a break-and-enter on the main floor. The tenant said the occupant of the main floor was supposed to be away. Members of the Toronto Police Service were dispatched to the residence which was located in the area of Kennedy Road and Malta Street. 
  • Two of the officers entered the house through the side door, which had been unlocked. As they moved through the main floor, they came upon a 37-year-old man. The man opened the front door of the house to leave, but saw other officers who were situated outside of the front door. The man threw one of his legs over the iron railing attached to the porch. When two of the officers grabbed him, the man started to yell and pull away from the officers. During the course of the struggle, the railing broke off and the man fell onto the cement porch. The two officers landed on top of him. The man continued to fight, and ignored multiple demands that he stop resisting the efforts of police and place his hands behind his back. Sometime during this struggle, one of the officers hurt her wrist. While fighting to get hold of the man’s left arm, another officer slipped on the icy porch and fell off. The struggle continued as the man attempted to resist the officers. 
  • The subject officer approached the struggle on the porch and took a position near the man’s feet. The man continued to thrash his arm and legs, and was not responding to the police commands to desist. The subject officer removed his CEW from its holster and announced that he would use it if the man continued to resist. As the man continued to struggle, the officer yelled “Taser, Taser, Taser” and fired the weapon. The CEW probes latched onto the man, but the discharge appeared to have no effect. The man managed to persist in his struggle and rip the prongs out, leading the subject officer to load a new cartridge and fire again. This time, the man went rigid. However, as soon as the discharge ceased, the man resumed his physical struggle. The subject officer cycled another charge on the CEW and the man’s body locked up again. This time the man said words to the effect of “OK – I give up”, and complied with the arrest process. 
  • Police witnesses at the scene noted, following the arrest, that the man had sustained a number of abrasions on the left side of his face, specifically below his left eye, above his left eyebrow and near the upper left corner of his hairline.
  • After the man was handcuffed and taken into custody, paramedics arrived on scene to remove the CEW prongs. 
  • While in a cell, the man began seizing. He was taken to hospital for medical examination, at which time it was found he had a fractured left maxillary sinus. 

Director Loparco said, “With respect to the subject officer’s use of his CEW, it was both reasonable and necessary in the circumstances, and could not be said to constitute excessive force. The subject officer was acting in the course of his duties when he facilitated a lawful arrest. The man was non-responsive to the police commands to stop resisting and he continued to thrash his legs even with multiple officers trying to subdue him. The subject officer also noted that at least one officer was hurt during the course of the violent struggle. The subject officer’s actions were both thoughtful and measured. He assessed the situation and decided that his CEW was necessary in order to bring a violent and ongoing altercation to an end. He provided a warning prior to firing his CEW, and only resorted to his weapon when that warning was ignored. He deployed only as many charges as were necessary to incapacitate the man. After the man was taken into custody, no further force was applied.” 

Director Loparco further stated, “It is not immediately clear how the man sustained the facial fracture or the abrasions on the left side of his face. There is no reliable evidence of any application of force that accounts for those injuries. It is possible that the man sustained the fracture when he fell onto the porch from the railing, but it would be speculative to cite that as the cause of the injury definitively. Regardless, the cause of the man’s serious injury is a moot point, given the excessive force analysis, and my conclusion that the full body of force applied was reasonable in the circumstances. Consequently, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed and 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. 

Lisez ce communiqué en français.

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