SIU Director’s Report - Case # 18-OCI-256
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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 a serious injury sustained by a 36-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn August 28, 2018 at 3:00 p.m., the St. Thomas Police Service (STPS) contacted the SIU and reported an injury to the Complainant. The Complainant was arrested at a residence in St. Thomas. A subsequent assessment at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital revealed a fractured rib.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Complainant:36-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
Subject OfficersSO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right
The SceneThe building was an older home converted into individual apartment units. The common entrance is accessed via the front stairs. A woman resided in unit one on the main floor. The main floor hallway has a trap door which leads to the basement.
The basement was an unlit utility area with windows providing ambient light. There were several water heaters, a furnace, and debris throughout the room. The floor was cement. At the far end of the basement was a crawl space raised several feet above the basement floor. The interior of the crawl space was about three feet high with a dirt floor. It extended to the end of the building. There was debris and construction material discarded at the entrance and inside the crawl space. There was no surveillance video of the interior of the building.
Communications RecordingsThe SO was recorded in a phone conversation with the woman residing in the apartment. He arranged through her to obtain her apartment keys to search her residence for the Complainant. He told her a neighbour reported seeing the Complainant enter the building at 7:00 a.m., the morning of August 28, 2018. The woman had changed the locks as a result of the previous day’s events and suggested the Complainant could not get into her apartment without breaking something. She further stated that in the past the Complainant had hidden in the crawl space and listened to the activities in her apartment.
At 11:50 a.m., the SO and WO #1 arrived at the residence. At 11:55:03 a.m., WO #1 broadcast he had located the Complainant in the crawl space. Indecipherable yelling is heard in the background. A minute later a microphone was keyed open with brief sounds of a struggle. At 11:56:24 a.m., WO #1 broadcast the Complainant was in custody.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from STPS:
- Arrest Report August 28, 2018;
- Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Event Details;
- General Report - Complainant arrest on warrant;
- General Report - previous domestic no offence;
- General Report - previous attempted break in August 22, 2018;
- General Report - substantive assault offences August 27, 2018;
- Notes and Will State of all witness officers;
- Occurrence Summary the Complainant;
- Prisoner Booking Document;
- Communications recordings; and
- STPS Scene photos.
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 restricted in the force they may use to that which is reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they are required or authorized to do by law. The officers were acting within the confines of their lawful authority in seeking to arrest the Complainant based on the outstanding arrest warrant and the information at their disposal regarding the assault the Complainant had allegedly perpetrated the day before. Having located him hiding in a crawl space, the SO and WO #1 reasonably concluded, in my view, that it would be prudent to ground the Complainant at the first opportunity. They did so, and thereafter found themselves in a struggle to handcuff the Complainant’s hands, during which WO #1 was struck by the Complainant’s elbow. It may well be that the Complainant could not easily surrender his arms owing to the position he found himself in on the ground. Be that as it may, the officers were in confined quarters and aware of the Complainant’s potential for violence; they did not have the luxury of time and could reasonably conclude in the heat of the moment that they were dealing with a wholly recalcitrant individual. On this record, a single knee strike and punch, delivered by the SO and WO #1, respectively, strike me as falling within the range of what was reasonably necessary in the circumstances to secure the Complainant’s arms in handcuffs.
In the result, as I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the force used by the officers was legally justified, there are no grounds to proceed with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.
Date: August 19, 2019
Original signed 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.