SIU Concludes Investigation into a Custody Injury Involving the Ontario Provincial Police
Case Number: 08-PCI-167
Other News Releases Related to Case 08-PCI-167
On August 17, 2008 at approximately 11:30 a.m., OPP officers responded to a call in the camping area of the Havelock Jamboree grounds east of Peterborough where they arrested the man for fighting and causing a disturbance. They placed him in the rear of the cruiser where, as described by civilian witnesses, he kicked out the rear passenger window, cutting his foot in the process, and repeatedly banged his head and face against the Plexiglass partition between the front and back seats causing his face to bleed. The man was soon covered in blood and was transported directly to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre.
Upon the cruiser's arrival in the ambulance bay at the hospital, the man continued his violent behaviour despite his hands being cuffed behind his back. He physically resisted attempts to walk him into the emergency ward, prompting an officer to deploy his Taser in an effort to control the male.
"The man was able to elude attempts by one officer to perform a leg sweep, apparently meant to take him to the ground in order to control him," said former SIU Director James Cornish of the events inside the ambulance bay. "The man then was able to break the grip of at least one officer and failed to stop his behaviour even though warned that the Taser would be used. When the Taser was employed, the man was incapacitated and fell face first to the concrete."
In arriving at his conclusion, Mr. Cornish explained: "There were other options open to the officers at the scene, but that fact does not mean that the use of the Taser was unreasonable. It is clear that the complainant, though handcuffed, was strenuously resisting the officers and, therefore, some force was justified. Also, given the layout of the ambulance bay, there was a danger of escape or further injury if the man was not controlled. Our criminal law justifies the use of reasonable force by police officers in the discharge of their duties. All in all, I cannot say that the use of the Taser in these circumstances constituted a criminal use of force."
With respect to the period of time preceding the events in the ambulance bay, Mr. Cornish concluded that the arrest was lawful and that the officers exercised a reasonable level of care while the male was in their custody.
During the investigation, the SIU interviewed four police officers and eight civilian witnesses. The Unit's forensic investigators test fired the Taser and retrieved the
weapon's data, and also photographed and examined the damage to the cruiser. Also
assessed by the SIU were medical records, the security video of the ambulance bay, police communication tapes, occurrence reports and the OPP's policies on Use of Force, Prisoner Care and Control and Prisoner Transportation.
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.