SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-PCI-240
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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 reportedly sustained by a 32-year-old woman (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn September 26, 2020, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reported the following:
On September 25, 2020, at about 6:54 p.m., the OPP received a domestic dispute-related call in Midland. The Complainant was reported to be yelling and screaming at her boyfriend on her front porch.
Upon arrival, the Subject Officer (SO) arrested the Complainant for breach of the peace and she was taken to the detachment. She was released from custody at 11:30 p.m.
On September 26, 2020, at 9:19 p.m., the Complainant called the OPP and reported that during her arrest, she sustained a broken right arm. She further mentioned that she attended the Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH), saw a physician, and had her arm placed in a cast.
After the Complainant was released from custody, Witness Officer (WO) #1 drove her home. The Complainant did not complain of any injuries and she was seen using her right hand to sign paperwork at the detachment. Also, police officers who were at the GBGH for an unrelated incident learned the physician the Complainant allegedly saw had not worked at the hospital since September 6, 2020.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Complainant:32-year-old female, declined interview
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
Subject OfficersSO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right
The SceneThe house in question is located in Midland, Ontario. It is a single-family residential dwelling. There is a paved asphalt laneway leading up to the front of the house from the roadway.
The main front door of the house is situated in the middle of the house. There is a small concrete path leading from the front door of the house to the paved laneway. There is a small concrete step from the path to the concrete sill at the base of the front door. The front yard is grass.
The incident occurred just outside this front main door and on the grass area directly in front of the main door.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP:
- Notes of witness officers.
The SO arrived at the scene within minutes, joined by WO #3 and WO #4. The Complainant’s partner was found outside the home sitting on the curb. He told the officers that the Complainant, who could be heard from inside the home yelling and swearing, had threatened to hit him with a baseball bat. The commotion drew the attention of neighbours.
The Complainant opened the front door as the SO made his way onto the porch in front of the entrance. A brief struggle ensued between the two as the officer attempted to arrest the Complainant for a breach of the peace. The SO took the Complainant to the ground on the lawn and, with the help of WO #3 and WO #4, handcuffed the Complainant without further incident.
Following her arrest, the Complainant was taken to the detachment and lodged in cells. At about 11:30 p.m., the Complainant was released from custody and driven home by WO #1.
Section 25(1), Criminal Code -- Protection of persons acting under authority
(a) as a private person,(b) as a peace officer or public officer,(c) in aid of a peace officer or public officer, or(d) by virtue of his office,
Analysis and Director's Decision
The evidence surrounding the nature and extent of the Complainant’s injury is very sketchy. The Complainant told the OPP that following her release from custody she attended the GBGH, where she was diagnosed and treated for a right arm fracture. The hospital, however, has no record of her attendance at the facility. In their interviews with the SIU, the witness officers, all of whom dealt with the Complainant at one point or another during her time in custody, say that the Complainant neither complained of any injury nor presented as injured. Regrettably, the Complainant has refused to speak with the SIU or authorize the release of her medical records. In the circumstances, it remains uncertain whether the Complainant did in fact sustain a fracture as she reported to the police.
Be that as it may, there is insufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that the SO acted unlawfully in his interaction with the Complainant, whether or not the Complainant’s arm was fractured in the course of the arrest. Based on the information the officers received at dispatch and the Complainant’s behaviour at the scene, the officers had cause to believe that the Complainant was intoxicated, threatening violence against those present outside her door, and causing a disturbance through her belligerence and profanity. There is nothing in this record to suggest that the Complainant’s arrest for breach of the peace was unlawful per se.
Nor, in my view, is the evidence capable of establishing a reasonable case that the SO used excessive force in effecting the Complainant’s arrest. Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, police officers engaged in the lawful execution of their duties may use force provided such force is no more than is reasonably necessary to do what they are authorized or required to do by law. I accept that the SO grounded the Complainant. However, I also accept that the Complainant physically resisted her arrest on the porch and was taken down in a controlled fashion in order to overcome her recalcitrance and effect her arrest.
In the result, as there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO acted other than lawfully in the course of his dealings with the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.
Date: January 6, 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.