SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OCI-188
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 sustained by a 41-year-old woman (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn July 22, 2020 at 1:14 p.m., the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) reported the following:
On July 7, 2020, the Complainant attended the WRPS for fingerprints and photographs in relation to an impaired driving charge from April 2020. She had a conversation with a civilian technician and told him that during her arrest, a police officer stomped on her left foot and broke it in several places. She later attended the Grand River Hospital (GRH) and had surgery to treat the fractures. The civilian technician relayed the information to a staff sergeant, who in turn relayed the information to the WRPS Professional Standards Branch.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Complainant:41-year-old female 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 Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
The SceneThe incident occurred on a raised landing in front of the front entrance of a building on Herbert Street.
The scene was not preserved by the WRPS due to the time that elapsed between the incident date, the diagnosis of the Complainant’s serious injury and notification made to the SIU.
Cambridge Ambulance Communications Centre (CACC) Audio Recordings
Audio Recording/Call Details Report dated June 2, 2020
5:01:48 p.m. to 5:05:26 p.m. [3 minutes and 38 seconds]
- This was the call initiated to the CACC by a man working at a business on Union Street, Waterloo, reporting that a woman [now known to be the Complainant] had collapsed in the store. He relayed his observations to the call-taker that the Complainant was fumbling with something and had collapsed on the floor where she appeared to be sleeping. The man monitored the Complainant while relaying to the call-taker the store’s location and telephone number. He reported that she was waking and still laying on the floor and that her eyes were blinking rapidly. He told the call-taker that the Complainant uttered, “Oh they gave me the wrong drugs … or something.” The sound of a woman shouting indiscernible words is heard near the end of the telephone conversation with the CACC call-taker.
Audio Recording/Call Details Report dated June 2, 2020
5:54:25 p.m. to 5:56:48 p.m. [1 minute and 58 seconds]
- This was the call initiated to the CACC by a WRPS dispatcher requesting that an ambulance attend the Complainant’s residence near Herbert Street The dispatcher provided the CACC with the reason for the request from information she gathered from police officers at the residence with the Complainant; that is, that the Complainant “had a bit too much to drink” and was complaining of leg pain. The dispatcher indicated that the prime reason for the ambulance request was the Complainant’s complaint of leg pain. The dispatcher responded to questions from the CACC regarding the Complainant’s condition, including medical history known and unknown at the time of the call, and the call concluded with assurance from the CACC that “someone”, meaning an ambulance and crew, would be sent to the address.
Audio Recording/Call Details Report dated June 3, 2020
9:10:18 p.m. to 9:19:37 p.m. [9 minutes and 19 seconds]
- This was a call initiated by the Complainant. She opened her call with the utterance, “I peacefully protested, I’m a truther,” followed by indiscernible slurred words and, “I was slammed into a cruiser and my head cracked and my leg broken.” When the CACC operator tried to ask the Complainant where she needed an ambulance, the Complainant sobbed and talked over the operator saying, “And I can’t get around my house, I’m crawling around.” As the CACC operator persisted with her questions about where the ambulance was needed, the Complainant accused the CACC operator of hurting her. The CACC operator asserted, “I’m sorry, who?” to which the Complainant replied, “You.” As the CACC operator continued with her efforts to get location information from the Complainant for the ambulance response, the Complainant continued to sob and sound intoxicated as she spoke over the words of the CACC operator. As the CACC operator’s frustration could be heard in her efforts to get details from the Complainant, the Complainant’s demeanour improved slightly when asked about her breathing normally. The Complainant answered the CACC operator’s question clearly, saying, “Laboured,” yet there was no obvious difficulty in her breathing heard in the recording. She then said, “They sent me home, the hospital sent me home, the police busted my leg and elbow,” and, “I was protesting peacefully on the grass,” and, “I was cited for civil disobedience.” The CACC operator asked the Complainant, “When did this happen?” The Complainant – sobbing and with slurred speech – some of it sounding like she was shouting at someone, and again talking over the words of the CACC operator, complained, “They cuffed me two days ago, I’m black and blue,” and, “I’m dying.” Near the end of the communication, when the Complainant said twice that there was no one in her residence to open the door for the paramedics, she was heard shouting and swearing at either the paramedics who arrived or the WRPS police officers [believed to be the SO, WO #1 and two undesignated officers], or all of them .
Audio Recording/Call Details Report dated June 4, 2020
7:46:54 p.m. to 7:52:23 p.m. [5 minutes and 29 seconds]
- This was a call that was initiated by the Complainant who opened the call saying she was going to die. She continued on saying, “I’m black and blue from head to toe, I was hurt by the police,” and that she fought for justice. As the CACC operator tried to get information from the Complainant that was relevant to the call for service, the Complainant, who sounded intoxicated, said, “I’ll have to crawl, I can’t walk.” When the CACC operator asked her if she was breathing normally, the Complainant said, “No, laboured,” and, “I was assaulted three days ago.” The Complainant continued, “I peacefully protested,” and then was heard laughing. The CACC operator said, “Go on,” to which the Complainant stated, “…and the police took me and slammed me into the cruiser - my arms are black – I can’t speak – they caught me and choked me – my leg is broken.” The CACC operator queried, “Your leg is broken?” The Complainant stated in response, “They said the bone on the side of my foot is fractured but I can’t walk on my leg.” The Complainant answered in the affirmative when asked if she had chest pain, and drowsiness and confusion, then added she was going to die and not to take her to a hospital. The CACC operator asked the Complainant if she felt pale, grey and sweaty, to which the Complainant affirmed that she felt all three, saying she was losing her voice and in withdrawal. She denied taking any medications and concluded the call saying three times, “I’m so dizzy,” and, “I’m gonna die if you don’t help me!”
WRPS Communications Audio Recordings
- The Complainant called police and was screaming with slurred speech that she was raped and beaten but never stated by whom she was assaulted. She said these things happened to her “because I am who I am” and that the police promised to “prosecute him” because “I am far from the first woman”. The Complainant claimed she had a university education and a high intelligence quotient. The Complainant swore and accused the 911 police call-taker of having done nothing. She continued speaking about her past employment and education, and abruptly terminated the call.
- The WRPS 911 call-taker reached the Complainant who, still with slurred speech, greeted the call-taker with, “What do you want from me?” The Complainant was inarticulate as she shouted over the voice of the 911 call-taker who said she wanted to help her. When she asked her, “Where are you?” the Complainant said she could not breathe and swore at the 911 call-taker. The Complainant continued shouting indiscernibly something about a social worker and her well-being. She then swore at the WRPS 911 call-taker and accused her of “supporting it”.
- The WRPS 911 call-taker asked the Complainant, “Where are you so we can come and talk to you?” The Complainant yelled that she had already told the police “about it” and ordered the police to do something “about it”. The Complainant continued to yell indiscernibly until the WRPS 911 call-taker asked her for her name. The Complainant said, after some delay, her first name and when asked for her last name, swore and indicated she had two names but was trying to get a divorce. She provided the WRPS call-taker with her address, then told her that if police were sent to her home, she would create a riot. She added, while the WRPS call-taker was trying to get more information from her, “You come here peacefully, or you are not welcome.” The WRPS 911 call-taker asked the Complainant if she was thinking of hurting herself or anyone else. The Complainant continued to scream indiscernibly, mentioning animal rights and being a peaceful protester, and swore at the 911-call taker for “asking it”. The Complainant sounded in crisis and continued shouting indiscernible words while the WRPS 911 call-taker was heard typing in the background. Near the end of the communication, she asked the Complainant if she had any weapons, to which the Complainant shouted that she did not have any, indicating her dietary restrictions The WRPS 911 call-taker asked the Complainant what her dietary restrictions had to do with weapons. The WRPS 911 call-taker asked her again if she had any weapons, to which the Complainant shouted, “What would I have?” The Complainant continued to shout at the WRPS 911 call-taker who asked her twice again if she had any weapons. There was a pause and the Complainant said, “This conversation is over” and terminated the call.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the WRPS:
- Communications audio recordings;
- Computer-aided Dispatch Details (x4);
- Notes of the SO and witness officers;
- Occurrence Details; and
- WRPS Directive – Prisoner Care and Control.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU also obtained and reviewed the following records from non-police sources:
- Ambulance Call Report (x4);
- CACC Audio Recordings;
- Medical Record – GRH;
- Medical Record – St. Mary’s Hospital (x2);
- Photographs (4) of Complainant from Complainant;
- Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services Incident Report; and
- Text message from Complainant to an SIU investigator.
Once at the address, the SO and WO #2 escorted the Complainant to the front door of the building. The Complainant did not have her key. WO #2 decided to walk around the building to see if there was any entrance they could access at the back. Shortly after he stepped off the concrete landing and made his way around the corner of the building, the Complainant walked off the landing and fell onto the lawn, injuring her left foot in the process.
Not able to get into the building, and not satisfied that an injured Complainant could take care of herself in her inebriated state, the officers decided to arrest the Complainant for public intoxication under the Liquor Licence Act. The Complainant took objection to her arrest and hurled profanities at the officers. She was led to the police cruiser, lodged in the rear seat and complained of pain in her left leg.
As it was nearing the end of the SO and WO #2’s shift, the Complainant was transferred into the custody of two other officers arriving at the scene. One of the officers, WO #3, noticed swelling around the Complainant’s left ankle and an ambulance was called to the scene. The Complainant had calmed with the arrival of the paramedics and was cooperating with them as they assessed her injury. Accordingly, WO #3 decided to release the Complainant into their care satisfied that she was no longer a danger to herself.
The Complainant was seen at hospital and eventually diagnosed with a fractured foot.
Sections 219 and 221, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing bodily harm
(a) in doing anything, or(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
Analysis and Director's Decision
The offence that arises for consideration is criminal negligence causing bodily harm contrary to section 221 of the Criminal Code. The offence is premised, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked and substantial departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. In the instant case, the issue is whether the SO was remiss in his duty of care toward the Complainant and, if so, whether his want of care caused or contributed to the Complainant’s injury and was of sufficient magnitude to attract criminal sanction. In my view, the evidence indicates that the SO acted professionally in the manner in which he treated the Complainant.
The SO was in the execution of his duty to protect and preserve life when he and his partner transported the Complainant to her home and accompanied her to the front door of her apartment building. The officers were aware that the Complainant was drunk and had moments before collapsed inside a store. Though the Complainant prevented the paramedics who responded to the store from treating her, they were of the view that her condition was not such that she required hospitalization. In the circumstances, the SO and WO #1 acted reasonably in deciding to escort her home.
Regrettably, through no fault of the officers, the Complainant walked off the raised concrete landing  in front of the front door entrance of the building, landing awkwardly on her foot and fracturing it in the process. In her intoxicated condition, it appears the Complainant simply failed to recognize or accurately judge the drop from the landing to the ground below. It might be argued that the SO, with the Complainant on the landing at the time, ought to have exercised greater vigilance in ensuring she did not approach the landing’s edge. That said, the evidence indicates that the SO did have a hold of the Complainant’s left arm at the time to steady her and that the Complainant’s movement toward the edge of the landing was sudden leaving the officer very little time to react. It should also be noted that the Complainant, whose balance was undoubtedly compromised by the effects of alcohol, did not give the appearance of someone who was completely without her faculties. In fact, she had just managed to walk, albeit a short distance, from the cruiser to the front door on her own power.
In the result, I am unable on the aforementioned-record to reasonably conclude that the SO acted other than with due care and regard for the Complainant’s health and well-being throughout their interaction. 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) There is some evidence that the Complainant’s fractured left foot was the result of an officer stomping on it on June 3, 2020; however, this evidence was wholly unreliable. For example, the evidence appears to conflate the Complainant’s interaction with the police on June 2, 2020 and June 3, 2020 and was in conflict with medical evidence indicating a stomp would not cause the injury. Instead, the medical evidence indicated the injury was caused when the Complainant rolled her ankle, precisely as appears to have occurred just before she was taken into custody on June 2, 2020. [Back to text]
- 2) The landing was raised two steps from the ground. [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.