SIU concludes Investigation into Toronto Man's Death
Case Number: 06-TCD-093
On November 12, 2006, Mr. Jasen Drnasin was involved in an altercation with TTC Special Constables and Toronto Police Service (TPS) officers in the area of Eglinton Avenue West and Royal York Road. Shortly after his arrest, Mr. Drnasin went into medical distress. He was transported to hospital. He remained in critical condition until his death on November 27, 2006.
The SIU assigned three Investigators and two Forensic Identification Technicians (FIT) to investigate the circumstances surrounding this death. Three officers were designated as Subject Officers and sixteen were designated as Witness Officers. Sixteen civilian witnesses were interviewed.
The SIU determined that in the late afternoon of November 12, 2006, Mr. Jasen Drnasin boarded a southbound TTC bus on Islington Avenue. Without provocation, he punched a man who was a passenger on the bus. The man did not know Mr. Drnasin. The man got off the bus and called the TPS to report the assault. Several hours later, the same man got on an eastbound bus on Eglinton Avenue East and noticed Mr. Drnasin was on it. Police were called again. Mr. Drnasin exited that bus at Islington Avenue and the man exited at Royal York Road. While the man waited at Royal York Road for the police to arrive, another eastbound bus on Eglinton Avenue East approached and stopped at Royal York Road. It was carrying Mr. Drnasin as a passenger. The driver of that bus was apprised of the situation. He asked his passengers to exit the bus and to board another eastbound bus, which had pulled in behind him. Mr. Drnasin was among the passengers that did so and took a seat near the back. Prior to the TPS arriving, two TTC Special Constables boarded the bus in which Mr. Drnasin was sitting. The TTC Special Constables attempted to arrest Mr. Drnasin, and when he physically resisted them, pepper foam was used in an attempt to control him. The Special Constables were unable to subdue Mr. Drnasin, despite a concerted physical effort. A TTC employee who attempted to aid the Special Constables suffered a broken arm during the struggle.
Mr. Drnasin broke free, fled the bus, and ran from the scene. TPS officers responded to the call. When the officers arrived on the scene they were told that Mr. Drnasin was running eastbound on the south side of Eglinton Avenue. The officers caught up to Mr. Drnasin. One of the officers told Mr. Drnasin to stop, but Mr. Drnasin ignored the officer. The officers attempted to take Mr. Drnasin into custody. Mr. Drnasin physically resisted the officers. The TPS officers used a number of empty hand strikes and knee strikes on Mr. Drnasin in an attempt to gain Mr. Drnasinâ€™s compliance, but were unsuccessful. Mr. Drnasin was relatively uninjured by these blows and was able to continue his struggle for about eight minutes. With the assistance of other officers and the TTC Special Constables, Mr. Drnasin was finally subdued. At this time Mr. Drnasin went into medical distress.
Toronto Fire and EMS arrived on the scene and treated Mr. Drnasin. It is clear that the officers were aware of the risks of positional asphyxia and attempted to reposition Mr. Drnasin on the ground. An oxygen mask was placed on Mr. Drnasin, but he was moving on his own and still struggling against his restraints. Mr. Drnasin was transported by ambulance to hospital. Mr. Drnasin was admitted to hospital and died on November 27, 2006.
Director Cornish determined that TPS officers were acting lawfully when they arrived at the Royal York Road and Eglinton Avenue area to assist TTC Special Constables in arresting Mr. Drnasin. By every account, the subject officers and other police officers that arrived on the scene were required to engage in a prolonged struggle with an individual exhibiting extraordinary strength. Director Cornish said, â€œThe TPS officers delivered knee strikes and punches to Mr. Drnasin with the intent of gaining his compliance. There is no evidence that Mr. Drnasin was choked in any way. TPS officers eventually subdued Mr. Drnasin. The officers held Mr. Drnasin down and restrained his limbs. This was an entirely reasonable response to the situation facing the officers. In my view, the force used cannot be characterized as excessive or unwarranted. Mr. Drnasinâ€™s death cannot be attributed to unreasonable force used by the police.â€
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.