SIU Concludes Investigation into Sarnia Custody Injury
Case Number: 10-OCI-247
The SIU assigned two investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. The SIU designated and interviewed two subject officers and six witness officers. Four civilian witnesses were interviewed.
On the evening of November 16, 2010, SPS officers went to Devine St. to arrest 45-year-old Vincent Beaulieu for an alleged criminal offence. The two subject officers, members of SPS’s Emergency Response Team, also arrived on scene to assist in the execution of a Feeney warranty, which authorizes officers to forcibly enter a dwelling-house to affect an arrest. While the officers were maintaining containment around the home waiting for the Feeney warrant to arrive, they were advised that the occupant of the home, Mr. Beaulieu, had ruptured a gas line inside. The decision was made that they could no longer wait and, at about 8:30 pm, the officers forced their way into the home. Mr. Beaulieu was located seated on a couch holding a lit lighter in his hand. Mr. Beaulieu proceeded to stand up and turn his back to both subject officers. One subject officer yelled at him to get down. Mr Beaulieu refused to do so. The subject officer then used a foot strike to knock Mr. Beaulieu to the couch. He was then taken to the ground and handcuffed by the subject officers, whereupon he was escorted to a waiting cruiser and transported to the police station. Shortly before 11:00 pm, while in police custody in cells, Mr. Beaulieu complained of a sore leg and was taken to hospital. He was diagnosed with a fracture to his right leg.
Director Scott concluded, “The involved officers were well-advised to take very seriously Mr. Beaulieu’s allegation that he had ruptured a gas line inside the house. Based on this information and their understandable concern for the health and safety of persons in the neighbourhood should an explosion result, the officers cannot be faulted for their decision to forcibly enter the home to apprehend Mr. Beaulieu in advance of the Feeney warrant. These were clearly exigent circumstances authorizing a warrantless entry into the home under the Criminal Code. Once inside the home, and confronted by an individual holding a lit lighter in circumstances where the flame could light gas flowing from a ruptured gas line, I am satisfied that the officers used reasonable force in defence of their lives and the lives of others to quickly place Mr. Beaulieu under arrest. In the end, the injuries sustained by Mr. Beaulieu in the course of the arrest were the collateral result of the reasonable use of force in a potentially imminently lethal situation.”
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.
Monica Hudon, email@example.com
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342