SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-PCI-186
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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 sustained by a 49-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn July 26, 2020, at about 12:32 p.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) contacted the SIU to report the following.
On July 25, 2020, at approximately 9:46 p.m., the OPP responded to a suspicious circumstance call at a Hydro Distribution Centre. Two men were seen cutting a hole in the fence, entering a storage building, removing copper wire, and putting it in their vehicle. When police officers arrived, the men fled on foot. A police service dog (PSD) caught a man [now known to be the Civilian Witness (CW)], who was arrested and detained. The PSD was then set after a man [now known to be the Complainant], who was seen going over a fence. The PSD went around the fence and found the suspect hiding in tall grass. The Complainant was arrested after a brief struggle.
Both men were transported by ambulance to the Chatham campus of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance. The CW was treated for a minor dog bite and released to police. The Complainant had a dog bite and two fractured ribs. After treatment, he too was released to police.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Complainant:49-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
Civilian WitnessesCW Interviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
Subject OfficersSO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right
The SceneThe Hydro One Distribution Centre held a 911 response address of 22200 Lakeshore Road 3030, Tilbury. The parcel of land on the north side of Lakeshore Road ran approximately 270 metres from Lakeshore Road to a railway line north of the property. The last portion of the property was marsh and thickly occupied by cattail.
The property was occupied by hydro poles, lines, pilons, transformers and storage buildings.
North of the railway line was an industrial property.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence Hydro One’s remote security provider provided recordings of the events of July 25, 2020. The video was recorded with an infrared camera system remotely panned and zoomed by an operator. The video ran from approximately 9:40 p.m. to 10:18 p.m. It captured the Complainant and the CW cutting the fence, entering the hydro compound, collecting copper wire, and putting the wire in their car. It recorded the arrival of the police officers and the Complainant’s flight from the scene. It recorded the capture of the CW by the PSD. The video clearly showed only one PSD present but did not capture the Complainant being located and arrested. Those events occurred well outside the range of the security cameras.
Police Communications Recordings
Call #1, 25 July 2020, 9:48:06 p.m.
WO #4 contacted communications and requested assistance be sought from Chatham OPP and the Chatham-Kent Police Service (CKPS).
Call #2, 25 July 2020
OPP communications contacted CKPS communications and were told all CKPS units were busy and unable to assist with a Break and Enter call near Tilbury.
Call #3, 25 July 2020
OPP communications contacted Caliber Communications and asked for live updates as OPP units were responding to the Hydro One facility. Caliber Communications told the OPP that the Ontario Grid Control Centre, security for Hydro One, was also responding to the scene.
Call #4, 25 July 2020
The OPP communications contacted Caliber Communications to obtain and receive a better description of the location of the involved vehicle and the activities of the thieves. During this telephone call Caliber Communications told the communication centre they had seen OPP members arrive on the site and engage the “suspect”.
Call #5, 25 July 2020
OPP communications contacted London Emergency Medical Services (EMS) dispatch and requested an ambulance attend the scene.
Call #6, 25 July 2020
OPP communications contacted London EMS dispatch and requested a second ambulance attend the scene.
Call #7, 25 July 2020
OPP communications contacted Wallaceburg EMS dispatch and confirmed a request for a second ambulance to attend the scene.
Call #8, 25 July 2020
OPP communications contacted Wallaceburg EMS dispatch and updated the location at which the ambulance was required.
Call #9, 25 July 2020
OPP communications requested a tow truck.
Call #10, 25 July 2020
WO #4 advised OPP communications that both men received canine bites and asked for notification of a sergeant.
Call #11, 25 July 2020
The SO contacted OPP communications and asked for the time the call was received, the time that he was on scene, and the time the second party was in custody.
Call #12, 25 July 2020
WO #3 contacted OPP communications and advised she was at the Chatham-Kent Alliance Hospital and would be doing reports.
Starting at 9:46 p.m., the communications centre assigned WO #1 to the call. WO #2 asked to be assigned to the call as well.
Information was relayed to the police officers that there was someone live-monitoring events at the hydro compound where two men had cut the fence and were stealing copper wire.
WO #3 requested she be assigned to the call and the SO asked for a sergeant to authorize a unit from the Tilbury attachment to start towards the call as well.
WO #4 requested he be attached to the call and for details. He asked that as police officers arrive at the scene they approach with their lights and sirens off.
The communication centre provided the responding police officers with updates and WO #4 and the other police officers made logistical arrangements for their arrival until they were told the thieves had spotted their approach and one ran into the bush.
There were no communications broadcast that police officers had arrived but WO #2’s next broadcast was that he had a person in custody [now known to be the CW], and an ambulance was requested.
WO #4’s next broadcast was an out-of-breath request for a “repeater car”, just before WO #3 requested information from a licence plate.
Some inaudible communications occurred and the communication centre asked for the messages to be repeated before WO #4 directed the “repeater car” to a location.
WO #2, also out-of-breath, notified the communications centre they had a second man [now known to be the Complainant] in custody and another ambulance would be needed.
The remaining communications all coordinated the direction of ambulances upon their arrival.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP:
- Canine Operational Report;
- Event Details;
- Notes of witness officers;
- Occurrence Summary;
- Occurrences regarding the Complainant;
- OPP Civilian Witness List;
- Radio-communication recordings;
- 911 calls;
- Scenes of Crime Officer Report; and
- Use of Force Training Record for the SO.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from non-police sources:
- Surveillance video of Hydro yard;
- Medical records – the Complainant; and
- Medical records – the CW.
In the evening of the day in question, the OPP received a call from a security company. The company, which had been monitoring a live video feed of a hydro compound in Tilbury, reported that two men had broken onto the grounds and were stealing copper wire from the premises. The two men were the Complainant and the CW. Officers were dispatched to investigate.
WO #2 and the PSD were the first to arrive at the scene shortly after 10:00 p.m. By this time, the Complainant and the CW had re-entered the car in which they had arrived and were reversing eastward toward the main north – south strip that connected the hydro compound to Lakeshore Road. When WO #2’s police cruiser approached them, the Complainant, who was operating their car, brought it to a stop. He exited through the driver’s door and ran westward away from the police. The CW, on the other hand, exited from the front passenger door, walked around the front of the vehicle and proceeded toward the police vehicle with his arms up. The PSD ran toward him, leapt at his chest and took hold of his upper right side. He was quickly followed by WO #2, who was soon joined by WO #3 and WO #1, arriving at the scene in their own cruisers. The latter two officers grabbed hold of the CW’s arms as WO #2 struggled to have the PSD release his grip. Within seconds, the PSD was dislodged from the CW, whereupon he was brought to the ground and handcuffed. 
As the CW was being apprehended, WO #4 arrived at the scene and joined WO #2 as they prepared to track the Complainant with the PSD. The dog led the officers into a cattail covered marsh filled with knee deep water and mud. The SO had also been dispatched and soon joined in the track.
The PSD and the three officers travelled in a northwest direction, which brought them to railway tracks. The officers traversed the tracks and were then led in a northeast direction toward a fenced-in industrial complex north of the hydro station. The PSD stopped at a section of fence and tried to climb it, indicating that the Complainant had recently done the same. The officers found a gateway through the fence and continued to track north through the grounds until they came upon another fence bordering the northern limits of the complex. A short while later, a distance west of their location, the PSD located the Complainant lying in a ditch attempting to conceal himself in the cattails.
Having discovered the Complainant, the PSD ran toward him and bit into his inner right thigh. The Complainant fought the dog, kicking at the animal and clawing at his face. The dog maintained its hold as the SO, WO #2 and WO #4 arrived. Following a short altercation with the officers, the Complainant was subdued and handcuffed.
At hospital following his apprehension, the Complainant was diagnosed with a dog bite and several fractured right-sided ribs.
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
Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, police officers are immune from criminal liability for force used in the course of their duties provided such force was reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they were required or authorized to do by law. There is no question that the Complainant and the CW were subject to arrest. They had been caught red-handed on a live video feed stealing copper wire from the hydro property at Lakeshore Road 303, Tilbury. The issue turns to the propriety of the force used in the Complainant’s arrest.
The use of the police dog, and the strikes delivered by the SO, seem to have been reasonable tactics. The officers had information that the Complainant and the CW had broken into the premises of a hydro station and were in the process of stealing copper wire. Having arrived on scene, the Complainant fled from police into a swampy marsh area to evade apprehension. Because of the thick brush, poor visibility and uneven terrain, the officers had cause to approach the situation with caution as they searched for the Complainant. In the circumstances, I am unable to find fault with their decision to deploy the dog to find the Complainant and, once found, to engage the Complainant at a distance and only after he had been engaged by the dog. Once the PSD located the Complainant, the dog appears to have behaved in line with its training; that is, it took hold of one of the Complainant’s limbs and refused to let go until directed to by the handler. According to WO #2, he arrived to find the Complainant struggling against the dog and decided to have the PSD maintain his hold until such time as the Complainant had been subdued. In the circumstances, I am unable to reasonably conclude that that decision was unreasonable. In fact, the Complainant refused to release his arms to be handcuffed and was met by several knee strikes by the SO, after which the officers were able to wrest control of the Complainant’s hands and the dog’s hold was released. In light of the events that had preceded the arrest, including the Complainant’s spirited flight from police and the possibility he might be in possession of a weapon, the SO was in my view entitled to wish to effect the Complainant’s arrest as quickly as possible. Against this backdrop, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the SO’s knee strikes fell afoul of the limits prescribed by the criminal law even if, as I accept, they probably were the cause of the Complainant’s broken ribs. 
For the foregoing reasons, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the SO conducted himself lawfully throughout his interaction with the Complainant. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.
Date: January 25, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) The CW did not suffer any “serious injury” within the terms of the SIU’s jurisdiction. Thus, the circumstances surrounding his arrest were not the focus of the SIU’s investigation. [Back to text]
- 2) I was unable to place much if any weight on a rendition of the events that indicated one of the officers (likely, the SO) punched the Complainant’s right ribs repeatedly and excessively. The reliability of this evidence is suspect for multiple reasons, including the fact it minimized the Complainant’s role in the theft that preceded the officers’ arrival and was inaccurate about the number of PSDs on scene. [Back to text]
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.