SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-TCI-184


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Mandate of the SIU

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. The Unit’s jurisdiction covers more than 50 municipal, regional and provincial police services across Ontario.

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.

Information Restrictions

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. 
Pursuant to section 21 of FIPPA (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this document. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
  • 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.

Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)

Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.

Other proceedings, processes, and investigations

Information 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.

Mandate Engaged

The Unit’s investigative jurisdiction is limited to those incidents where there is a serious injury (including sexual assault allegations) or death in cases involving the police.

“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 a serious injury suffered by a 19-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On July 25, 2020, at 4:55 p.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant.

The TPS reported that on July 25, 2020, at about 1:03 p.m., two TPS 52 Division plainclothes police officers witnessed a hand-to-hand drug transaction at the corner of Simcoe Street and Dundas Street. The police officers went to arrest the dealer and he took off on foot. After a brief chase, the suspect - the Complainant - was arrested without incident. A search incident to arrest yielded no drugs. The Complainant was taken back to TPS 52 Division, where a level three search was conducted. No drugs were found. The arresting police officers believed that the Complainant had ingested the drugs he had on him. While in custody, the Complainant began to feel ill and passed out. Police administered Narcan and called emergency medical services (EMS). EMS transported the Complainant to St. Michael’s Hospital [now known to be Mount Sinai Hospital (MSH)], where he went vital signs absent. He was resuscitated by doctors and thereafter placed in the intensive care unit under police guard. 

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Four witness officers (WOs) and two police employee witnesses (PEWs) were interviewed. 
Two Subject Officers (SOs) were designated but they did not provide notes or give the SIU an interview. 


19-year-old male, not interviewed

The Complainant was paralyzed and could not speak or communicate in any form. The Complainant remained in hospital and, as such, the hospital would not release his medical records.

Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed

Police Employee Witnesses

PEW #1 Interviewed
PEW #2 Interviewed

Subject Officers

SO #1 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right
SO #2 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right


The Scene

The scene of the arrest was located on the northeast corner of Simcoe Street and Dundas Street.

The Complainant fell into acute medical distress while in a cell at TPS 52 Division.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

Booking and Cell Video Recording

The TPS provided the SIU with closed-circuit television video from the booking room at 52 Division, on July 25, 2020, when the Complainant was booked into custody. The Complainant was later removed from the station to be transported to MSH.

At 1:33:20 p.m., the video and audio began, and a man’s voice said, “Guys, roll right in, you are good to start.” WO #2 and PEW #1 were behind the booking desk. The Complainant was handcuffed with his hands behind his back as he walked into the booking room. He wore black track pants, and a white T-shirt under black track jacket. The Complainant’s right arm was held by a plainclothes officer who wore beige shorts, white T-shirt and white running shoes. There was a second plainclothes officer who wore jeans and a dark T-shirt following the Complainant. The police officer that held onto the Complainant advised him that he was under video surveillance. The Complainant told WO #2 his date of birth when asked. The Complainant grimaced. The police officer who held the Complainant advised him that he was under arrest for possession of drugs and weapons dangerous. The police officer requested a level three search. WO #2 asked the Complainant if he understood why he was arrested, and the Complainant said he did. The Complainant began to breathe heavy and, when asked, explained that he was tired and that this happened whenever he exercised.

WO #2 asked the Complainant if he was injured and he advised that he had an old chest wound from an old stabbing. WO #2 indicated that the Complainant had a scratch on his forehead. The Complainant advised he did not have any illnesses and was not on any medication. The Complainant advised WO #2 that he had not consumed any alcohol. The Complainant asked if he could sit down. WO #2 asked the Complainant if he had taken any drugs prior to his arrest and he denied that he had. WO #2 asked the Complainant about his heavy breathing and he advised that he has had breathing problems since being stabbed in his lung in 2018. The Complainant asked if he could have water and WO #2 told him that they would get him water. The Complainant’s breathing came under control and again he denied taking drugs prior to his arrest.

At 1:39:18 p.m., the Complainant was removed from the booking hall by the two plainclothes police officers. The Complainant was advised by WO #2 that he would be going off-camera for the level three search. At 1:44:23 p.m., the Complainant and the plainclothes police officers returned to the booking room. At 1:45:16 p.m., the Complainant and the plainclothes police officers left the booking room. One of the plainclothes police officers told the Complainant that there was water in his cell from the tap. WO #2 told PEW #1 that it appeared that the Complainant’s breathing was better. PEW #1 advised that apparently it came and went, and they would keep an eye on the Complainant.

At 2:15:57 p.m., WO #2 spoke to a plainclothes police officer and told him to get a car and go to the hospital. WO #1 walked from the booking room desk towards the cell area. At 2:16:38 p.m., PEW #1 and WO #2 were at the desk in the booking room and a voice yelled, “[Officer], call 911.” At 2:17:08 p.m., the Complainant was returned to the booking room by WO #1 and PEW #2. The Complainant appeared to be unwell and slurred his words. The Complainant sat on the bench in front of the booking room desk. WO #1 told WO #2 to put a rush on it and WO #2 advised that she was on hold. At 2:17:53 p.m., the Complainant began to throw up and PEW #2 got the garbage can and put it in front of the Complainant. The Complainant began to have a seizure. WO #1 and PEW #2 lowered the Complainant to the floor and placed him in the recovery position. At 2:18:00 p.m., WO #1 administered a nasal shot of Narcan to the Complainant. PEW #2 stayed with the Complainant and held his head. The Complainant continued to have seizures. At 2:20:20 p.m., the Complainant appeared to be breathing.

At 2:23:10 p.m., PEW #2 told WO #2 that the Complainant said he had taken something, but the Complainant would not say what it was. At 2:25:05 p.m., Toronto Fire Service (TFS) personnel arrived in the booking room and took over the care of the Complainant. The Complainant was on his back and having seizures. At 2:26:40 p.m., someone said that they had a pulse confirmed. At 2:27:10 p.m., the paramedics arrived in the booking room and took over the Complainant’s care.

PEW #1 told the paramedic that the Complainant admitted to taking something. WO #2 told the paramedic that the Complainant also said he had been stabbed in the lung. WO #1 advised that it was believed that the Complainant had ingested a quantity of unknown drugs, and that he administered Narcan at 2:15:00 p.m. A paramedic confirmed that the Complainant had a scar in the middle of his chest. WO #2 advised the paramedics of the booking process. WO #1 advised that there had been a good struggle, the drugs had not been found at the scene, and it was anticipated that the drugs would be found during the level three search. At 2:33:49 p.m., the Complainant was removed from the booking room on a stretcher.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
  • Booking video;
  • Communications recording;
  • General Occurrence Report;
  • Intergraph Computer-assisted Dispatch - Event Details Report (x2);
  • Notes of PEWs, WO #1, WO #2 and WO #3;
  • Procedure – Arrest;
  • TPS Booking and Transport to Hospital Video; and
  • TPS Cell Video.

Materials obtained from Other Sources

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from non-police sources:
  • Ambulance Call Report (x2); and
  • Correspondence from MSH.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are apparent on the evidence collected by the SIU and may be summarized in short order. At about 1:00 p.m. on July 25, 2020, the Complainant was arrested by SO #1 and SO #2 in the area of Simcoe and Dundas Streets for trafficking in drugs. The undercover officers had observed him completing what appeared to be a hand-to-hand drug transaction. The Complainant resisted his arrest to a degree, but was handcuffed and subdued largely without incident. Following his arrest, the Complainant was searched and then walked to 52 Division, a short distance away. No drugs were found on him at the scene.

Once at 52 Division, the Complainant was paraded before WO #2. He denied having consumed any drugs and, when asked, explained that his heavy breathing was the result of exertion and an old lung injury. A further search of his person, this time, a strip search, again failed to turn up any drugs in the Complainant’s possession. At about 1:45 p.m., the Complainant was placed in a cell.

Convinced that they had seen the Complainant with a black bag of drugs, SO #1 and SO #2 returned to the scene of the arrest to look for the item. Nothing was located and the officers became concerned for the Complainant’s health, suspecting he may have ingested the drugs

Receiving word from the officers, WO #2 agreed to have the Complainant sent to hospital as a precaution. As those arrangements were being made, the Complainant waved for attention from within his cell. He told the responding officer – PEW #2 – that he needed to urgently be taken to hospital or he would die. The officer asked if he had taken anything, and the Complainant eventually admitted to having ingested a quantity of a drug, though he would not identify what he had consumed. At about 2:16 p.m., PEW #2 asked WO #2 to call 911. Paramedics were summoned to the station.

The Complainant quickly began to deteriorate; he slurred his words and was unsteady on his feet. Removed from his cell and taken to the booking room, the Complainant began to throw up and have seizures. He was placed in the recovery position on the floor and provided a dose of nasal Narcan by WO #1. The time was about 2:20 p.m.

TFS were the first to arrive at the scene and assumed the Complainant’s care. They were followed shortly by EMS paramedics, arriving at approximately 2:27 p.m. The Complainant was placed in the ambulance and rushed to hospital where he was treated for a massive cocaine overdose.

Relevant Legislation

Sections 219 and 221, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing bodily harm

219 (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
(a) in doing anything, or
(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.

(2) For the purposes of this section, duty means a duty imposed by law.

221 Every one who by criminal negligence causes bodily harm to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years


Section 215, Criminal Code - Failure to Provide Necessaries

215 (1) Every one is under a legal duty

(c) to provide necessaries of life to a person under his charge if that person
(i) is unable, by reason of detention, age, illness, mental disorder or other cause, to withdraw himself from that charge, and
(ii) is unable to provide himself with necessaries of life.

(2) Every person commits an offence who, being under a legal duty within the meaning of subsection (1), fails without lawful excuse to perform that duty, if
(b) with respect to a duty imposed by paragraph (1)(c), the failure to perform the duty endangers the life of the person to whom the duty is owed or causes or is likely to cause the health of that person to be injured permanently.

Analysis and Director's Decision

On July 25, 2020, the Complainant lapsed into acute medical distress while in a police cell at TPS 52 Division. He was taken to hospital and suffered a cardiac arrest, the result of a drug overdose. The officers who had arrested the Complainant that day – SO #1 and SO #2 – were identified as subject officers for purposes of the SIU investigation. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s arrest and injuries.

The offences that arise for consideration are failure to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing bodily harm contrary to sections 215 and 221 of the Criminal Code, respectively. The former is predicated, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked deviation from a reasonable standard of care in the circumstances. The letter captures conduct that is more egregious and requires a want of care that is both marked and substantial from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the same situation. The evidence fails to establish that any of the officers who had dealings with the Complainant on the day of his apprehension were derelict in their duties.

At the outset, it bears noting that there is nothing in the record to suggest the Complainant’s arrest was unlawful.

Thereafter, the evidence establishes that the officers proceeded to care for the Complainant with due regard for his health and safety. Believing the Complainant to be in possession of an illicit substance, WO #2 authorized a strip search at the station before the Complainant was lodged in cells. When the strip search failed to reveal the presence of any drugs, the arresting officers returned to the scene of the arrest to search for the contraband. Not able to find anything, SO #1 and SO #2 were quick to recommend that the Complainant be taken to hospital out of concern for his well-being, now worried that he may have consumed the drugs. They acted prudently in doing so, as did WO #2 when she began to make arrangements for the Complainant’s transport just before the Complainant himself asked for help from within the cells. They also acted promptly. The Complainant had denied drug consumption when booked at the station and provided a plausible explanation for his heavy breathing. There is nothing on this record that would have dictated more immediate action. As it was, emergency medical services were contacted as soon as the Complainant asked for help, not more than a half-hour or so from the time the Complainant was placed in his cell.

In the final analysis, as there is every indication in the evidence that the officers responsible for the Complainant’s care acquitted themselves professionally throughout his period of

custody, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case. The file is closed.

Date: January 25, 2021

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
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.