SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OVI-263
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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 the injury a 22-year-old woman (the “Complainant’) suffered.
Notification of the SIUOn October 11, 2020, at 4:46 p.m., the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) notified the SIU of the Complainant’s injury.
WRPS advised that on October 11, 2020, at 12:47 p.m., the Complainant was observed riding a bicycle. When police officers tried to stop her for breach of her conditions of release, she fled. She was followed first by Witness Officer (WO) #2 and the Subject Officer (SO). The police officers broadcast her direction of travel. WO #1 observed her ride down a cement path on Water Street South towards the river, between Walnut Street and Bruce Street, Cambridge. WO #1 then heard a splash as the Complainant crashed into the Grand River. The Complainant was arrested, and complained of a sore head, right ankle and right wrist. She was taken to the Cambridge Memorial Hospital (CMH) by the Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services, where she was diagnosed with having sustained a fractured wrist.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 0
Complainant:22-year-old female interviewed
Witness Officers WO #1 Interviewed, notes received and reviewed
WO #2 Interviewed, notes received and reviewed
Subject OfficerSO Declined interview, as is the subject officer’s legal right. Notes received and reviewed.
The SceneThe scene stretched for a distance eastbound along Main Street until Ainslie Street South, then south on Ainslie Street South, west on Imperial Lane and an adjacent parking lot, and south on Water Street South until the base of a footbridge across the Grand River located between Bruce and Walnut Streets.
Police Communications Recordings
Summary of Communications Recordings - October 11, 2020The following information was derived from a review of the communications recordings:
- The SO drove his marked cruiser in downtown Cambridge with his recruit, WO #2. He observed a woman (now known to be the Complainant) riding a BMX bicycle southbound on Ainslie Street from Main Street. The SO was aware that the Complainant was breaching a condition of her release.
- The Complainant rode through 26 Ainslie Street toward Water Street. She took off from the SO on Water Street and the officer followed at a distance of about 20 to 30 metres. The Complainant passed 35 Water Street and rode up a hill toward a footbridge.
- The Complainant rode down the stairs beside the bridge and ended up in the Grand River.
- The Complainant came out of the water. An ambulance was requested as the Complainant complained of pain to her right ankle and right wrist.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from WRPS:
- Computer-Assisted Dispatch and Occurrence Details (x2);
- Communications Audio;
- Disclosure Log;
- Notes-WO #1;
- Notes-WO #2;
- Notes-the SO;
- Prisoner Detain Sheet-the Complainant;
- Procedure-Suspect Apprehension Pursuits;
- Procedure-Arrest and Release;
- Release Order;
- Training Log-the SO (x2); and
- Crown Brief Synopsis.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from non-police sources:
- Ambulance Call Report – Waterloo Paramedic Services.
The SO followed the Complainant as she biked east on Main Street, south on Ainslie Street South and west on Imperial Lane through a parking lot. The Complainant eventually reached Water Street South where she cut across the lanes of traffic and picked up her flight southward on the west side of the road. The SO continued after the Complainant, pulled up alongside her on Water Street South, and yelled at her to stop. The Complainant continued to cycle and soon found herself on a footpath leading to a footbridge over the Grand River. The SO brought the cruiser to a stop and WO #2 exited, chasing after the Complainant on foot.
Just before the footbridge, the Complainant maneuvered westward down a hill toward another footpath that bordered the river, turned left and cycled down a set of stairs underneath the bridge. She lost control of the bike as she came off the stairs and turned right toward the river. Her momentum propelled the Complainant into the river.
WO #2 was quickly by the water’s edge. He was joined by WO #1, responding to render assistance in the Complainant’s apprehension. The two encouraged the Complainant to return to shore. The Complainant heeded the officers’ advice and was arrested. She was walked back up the stairs and complained of an injury to her ankle and wrist.
Paramedics attended the scene and took the Complainant to hospital where her fractured right wrist was diagnosed.
Section 320.13, Criminal Code – Dangerous operation causing bodily harm
Analysis and Director's Decision
The offence that arises for consideration is dangerous driving causing bodily harm contrary to section 320.13(2) of the Criminal Code. Liability for the offence is premised, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was any want of care in the manner in which the SO pursued the Complainant that caused or contributed to her injury and was sufficiently derelict as to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.
The SO was within his rights in seeking to arrest the Complainant and pursuing her for that purpose. The Complainant was subject to a judicial release order at the time on conditions that she not contact, be near, or communicate with a specified person. In contravention of that order, the Complainant was walking with this person when she crossed paths with the SO and WO #2.
Thereafter, in the context of what was a very brief engagement in time and distance, I am satisfied that the SO comported himself within the limits of the law. It is apparent that the officer was well back of the Complainant but for one brief moment when he pulled up alongside her on Water Street South and ordered her to stop. At no point was the Complainant imperiled by the SO’s manner of driving, nor were third-party motorists or pedestrians in the vicinity. In fact, this was a slow speed engagement meant to track the Complainant’s movements from a distance more than anything else. As soon as the Complainant cycled onto a pathway leading to the footbridge, the SO stopped the cruiser, allowing WO #2 to exit and give chase on foot. It was very quickly after that, with neither WO #2 nor WO #1 near her, that the Complainant lost control of her bicycle going down a set of stairs and ended up in the water of the Grand River. On this record, I am satisfied that the SO conducted himself with due care and regard for the safety of the public around him, and that the Complainant is alone responsible for her self-inflicted injury.
For the foregoing reasons, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.
Date: March 8, 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.