SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OCI-237
This page contains graphic content that can shock, offend and upset.
Mandate of the SIU
Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation. If, after an investigation, there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence was committed, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the officer. Alternatively, in all cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director does not lay criminal charges but files a report with the Attorney General communicating the results of an investigation.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”)Pursuant to section 14 of FIPPA (i.e., law enforcement), certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Confidential investigative techniques and procedures used by law enforcement agencies; and
- Information whose release could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter or an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding.
- Subject Officer name(s);
- Witness Officer name(s);
- Civilian Witness name(s);
- Location information;
- Witness statements and evidence gathered in the course of the investigation provided to the SIU in confidence; and
- Other identifiers which are likely to reveal personal information about individuals involved in the investigation.
Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)
Other proceedings, processes, and investigationsInformation may have also been excluded from this report because its release could undermine the integrity of other proceedings involving the same incident, such as criminal proceedings, coroner’s inquests, other public proceedings and/or other law enforcement investigations.
“Serious injuries” shall include those that are likely to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim and are more than merely transient or trifling in nature and will include serious injury resulting from sexual assault. “Serious Injury” shall initially be presumed when the victim is admitted to hospital, suffers a fracture to a limb, rib or vertebrae or to the skull, suffers burns to a major portion of the body or loses any portion of the body or suffers loss of vision or hearing, or alleges sexual assault. Where a prolonged delay is likely before the seriousness of the injury can be assessed, the Unit should be notified so that it can monitor the situation and decide on the extent of its involvement.
This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into serious injuries suffered by a 21-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUThe SIU was notified of the incident by the London Police Service (LPS) on September 24, 2020 at 1:27 p.m. LPS reported that earlier that day at 11:21 a.m., a 911 call was made by the Complainant to report that Civilian Witness (CW) #3 was in his residence and in breach of conditions not to be there. At 11:34 a.m., two LPS officers attended the Complainant’s apartment to speak with both men. While there, the police officers determined there was an outstanding warrant for CW #3. The officers took CW #3 out of the apartment and into the hallway to arrest him.
Shortly thereafter, the police officers heard a call over the radio about a person who had jumped from an apartment. It was later learned that the Complainant had jumped from his apartment and landed on the fourth-floor ledge of the apartment building.
The Complainant was taken to London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) where he was listed in critical but in stable condition.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed, notes obtained and reviewed.
WO #2 Interviewed, notes obtained and reviewed.
WO #3 Interviewed, notes obtained and reviewed.
The SceneThe scene was located at an apartment building in London outside a fourth-floor apartment. The apartment was a two-bedroom residence that was vacant. There were no signs of forced entry to either the front entrance or the patio door entrance to the balcony. The balcony was situated on the east side of the building. Beyond the confines of the balcony was an extension of roof due to the design of the building. This part of the roof extended approximately 1.5 metres (5 feet) beyond the railing edge of the balcony and consisted of small rocks. Within this area between the railing and roof edge was evidence of paramedic intervention and one sandal. Also, in an area close to the railing near the north edge of the balcony was an area of suspected transfer blood staining.
Photos were taken of the scene showing overall views of the apartment and the balcony area. A swab was collected of suspected staining on the rocks. The investigator was unable to retrieve any further evidence from the roof area due to unsafe circumstances.
The Complainant’s apartment was a two-bedroom residence that was occupied. The front door entrance showed no signs of forced entry. The living room area showed signs of disarray with a cell phone lying on the floor and a computer monitor tossed on the couch. At the east side of the living room there was a patio door that led out to the balcony. The screen door showed signs of forced entry to the balcony as it was bent outwards from the living room.
The balcony had one card table near the south edge and there were several empty liquor and wine bottles placed on the table and along the balcony edge on the floor apparently as decoration. Towards the north edge the bottles were in disarray by being knocked over. The railing in this area was examined and it was noted that there were obvious signs of hand impressions in dust. This area on the balcony coincided with the impact area of the fourth-floor apartment. The distance from the balcony railing to the impact area was 12 metres. The railing height was measured at 1.082 metres (approximately 3.549 feet).
Photos were taken of this scene, as well as measurements of the apartment in order to provide a planned drawing of the apartment. The latent impressions found on the railing were examined further. The area was visually inspected with an alternate light source and no ridge details for comparative purposes were found. Photography of the latent impressions was attempted with negative results. Development of the latent impressions was attempted using powders, which also proved negative.
Video/Audio/Photographic EvidenceThe SIU canvassed the area for video and/or audio recordings, and photographic evidence, and was able to locate the following sources:
- Video footage from CW #2’s cell phone; and
- Video footage from the apartment building.
Video Footage from CW #2’s Cell PhoneAt the time of this incident, CW #2 was on his apartment balcony and saw a man [now determined to be the Complainant] lying face down on a roof top below him. CW #2 video recorded what he saw using his cell phone. CW #2 recorded three short clips.
The first clip was 39 seconds long. CW #4 was seen in the parking lot watching the activities on the roof above. There were three men on the fourth-floor roof who walked over to give the Complainant assistance.
The second clip was eight seconds in length. A firefighter was seen on the roof assisting the Complainant.
The third clip was 36 seconds in length. Firefighters were on the roof assisting the Complainant. Two LPS police officers were in view, believed to be WO #3 and WO #2. The Complainant tried to raise his head and appeared to be conscious.
The audio was of poor quality and nothing could be discerned from it.
Video Footage from the Apartment BuildingTwo of the three elevator cameras were not functioning. WO #1 and WO #2 were not captured going up or down in the monitored elevator. The front door camera showed one of the LPS police officers bring CW #3 into the lobby, with his hands handcuffed, and take him outside to one of the police cruisers. There were no cameras on the side of the building where the Complainant’s apartment was located that looked upward and would have been capable of capturing his fall.
Police Communications RecordingsThe recordings were provided by LPS and were taken on September 24, 2020. The recordings were of no evidentiary value in that they did not address how or why the Complainant fell from the balcony and landed on the fourth-floor roof.
911 Call RecordingsOn September 24, 2020 at 11:21 a.m., the Complainant called 911 advising that CW #3 was refusing to leave his apartment. Subsequently, WO #1 and WO #2 were dispatched to attend the apartment.
On September 24, 2020, at 11:45 a.m., CW #2 called 911 to report a person [now determined to be the Complainant] had fallen and landed on the fourth-floor roof of the Complainant’s apartment building.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from LPS:
- Computer Assisted Dispatch Summaries (x2);
- Communication Recordings;
- 911 Call Recordings;
- Narrative Text – WO #1
- Narrative Text – WO #2;
- Narrative Text – WO #3;
- Notes – WO #1;
- Notes – WO #2;
- Notes – WO #3;
- LPS Policy – Mental Health Crisis Response; and
- Occurrence Reports (x2).
Materials obtained from Other Sources
- Cell Phone Video – CW #2; and
- LHSC Medical Records – the Complainant.
Sections 219 and 221, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing bodiily harm
(a) in doing anything, or(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
Section 17, Mental Health Act -- Action by police officer
(a) has threatened or attempted or is threatening or attempting to cause bodily harm to himself or herself;(b) has behaved or is behaving violently towards another person or has caused or is causing another person to fear bodily harm from him or her; or(c) has shown or is showing a lack of competence to care for himself or herself,
(d) serious bodily harm to the person;(e) serious bodily harm to another person; or(f) serious physical impairment of the person,
Analysis and Director's Decision
WO #1 and WO #2 were assigned to the Complainant’s call at 11:29 a.m. At 11:34 a.m., they attended the apartment and were permitted by a tearful Complainant (whose sobs they had heard from outside his apartment) to enter his apartment. The officers were also aware that there was an outstanding warrant for CW #3’s arrest at the time. Once WO #1 and WO #2 arrested CW #3, the Complainant broke down crying, because he had reconciled with CW #3, did not want CW #3 to be arrested, and had thought that the police would give him a chance to explain this change in circumstances.
Before the police officers left the Complainant, WO #2 asked the Complainant if he was all right, to which the Complainant replied that he was. Once the police officers were gone, however, the Complainant, tried to kill himself by falling from his balcony.
When WO #1 and WO #2 learned that a man had fallen in the apartment building which they were leading CW #3 out of, WO #1 was left to maintain custody over CW #3 while WO #2, accompanied by WO #3, went to the scene of the fall and helped the Complainant until medical care arrived.
As the preceding narrative reveals, the police officers were in no way physically responsible for the Complainant’s falling. As far as the officers’ potential criminal liability is concerned, therefore, the issue turns to whether there was a failure to act on the part of the police that caused or contributed to the Complainant’s injuries and, if so, whether those failures attract criminal sanction.
The offence that arises for consideration is criminal negligence causing bodily harm contrary to section 221 of the Criminal Code. This offence is premised, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked and substantial departure from the standard of care which a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. In my view, there is insufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that the officers who attended at the Complainant’s apartment to arrest CW #3 transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law.
The police officers were not present when the Complainant decided to jump from his balcony, nor were they neglectful in failing to take measures to prevent the Complainant from attempting to harm himself. Rather, WO #2 inquired with the Complainant about whether the Complainant was all right, and only left the Complainant alone once the Complainant had assured him that he was all right. If either WO #1 or WO #2 had done research into the Complainant, they would have found no references to his being suicidal or having a history of mental illness. It might be argued that the Complainant ought to have been apprehended for his own protection under section 17 of the Mental Health Act. That provision, however, requires that the person being arrested display signs of being a harm to self or others or being severely incapable of independent living. The Complainant’s crying in response to CW #3’s arrest does not fulfill these criteria, especially when juxtaposed with his statement to WO #2 that he was fine. Simply put, the officers had no reason to suspect that the Complainant, upset though he was, presented a foreseeable risk of harm to himself or others, and therefore no reason to exercise any heightened caution in relation to his well-being.
For the foregoing reasons, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.
Date: January 4, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
The signed English original report is authoritative, and any discrepancy between that report and the French and English online versions should be resolved in favour of the original English report.