SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-OCI-111
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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 31-year-old woman (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn May 18, 2019, at 2:30 a.m., the Barrie Police Service (BPS) contacted the SIU and reported an injury to the Complainant.
The BPS advised that on May 18, 2019, at approximately 12:40 a.m., BPS located an occupied stolen pickup truck in the area of 36 Mary Street. Police officers attempted to block the vehicle; however, the driver, the Complainant, managed to drive past the police cruiser and accelerated, colliding with the front doors of the Hope City Church. The distance travelled was approximately 15 metres. After a brief struggle police officers were able to arrest the driver and take her into custody. She complained of a sore hand and was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) where she was later diagnosed as having suffered a fractured right thumb.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Three investigators were assigned to this case. Investigators secured a copy of closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage obtained by the BPS from the premises at 36 Mary Street. The Complainant was interviewed by investigators and she provided consent for the release of medical information pertaining to this matter. Following consultations with the BPS liaison officer one subject officer and two witness officers were designated. The BPS had canvassed the area for witnesses and took statement from three civilian witnesses.
Complainant:31-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
Subject OfficersSO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
The SceneThe scene for this incident was a parking lot located at 36 Mary Street. The parking lot was adjacent to the Hope City Church which was a single story building on the west side of the parking lot. As this was a scheduled response, the scene was not held or examined.
The SO and WO #1 exited the police cruiser and approached the driver’s side of the pickup. The lights of the pickup came on. WO #1 removed his ASP baton from his duty belt and appeared to strike the driver’s side window of the pickup. The pickup accelerated forward at a high rate of speed and struck a cement wall with the passenger side and continued, crashing the front passenger side into the front door and window of the Hope City Church building.
When the pickup initially struck the building the front wheels were pointed forward. After the impact with the building the front wheels were forced to the right thereby directing the pickup into the front of the building. Both police officers ran over to the vehicle which had stopped. The driver’s side window was broken and the airbag was deployed.
The driver’s side door of the pickup opened and the Complainant exited without assistance. The SO grabbed her right wrist and WO #1 grabbed her left wrist. Together the police officers guided her onto her knees and then onto her stomach. The SO knelt on the right mid-back of the Complainant and WO #1 knelt on her left mid-back area. She was handcuffed with her hands behind her back and did not appear to resist in any way.
The SO stood up and held the right hand/wrist area of the Complainant with his left hand and her upper arm with his right hand. WO #1 held her left armpit area. Together both police officers lifted the Complainant up to a standing position. The Complainant was escorted by the police officers to the back of the cruiser. A marked cruiser pulled into the parking lot and WO #2 exited and conducted a search of the Complainant. The Complainant was escorted to the back passenger side of the cruiser and sat in the back seat without assistance.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the BPS:
- Copy of CCTV footage from 36 Mary Street, Barrie;
- Civilian Witness Statements (x3);
- BPS Arrest Procedure;
- BPS Use of Force Procedure; and
- Notes of witness officers and the SO.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesInvestigators also received the medical records in relation to the Complainant’s treatment at the RVH.
With their cruiser facing west and stopped at a right-angle nose-to-nose with the pickup, the SO and WO #1 exited and walked toward the Complainant advising her she was under arrest. As the Complainant started her vehicle, WO #1 drew his baton and smashed the driver’s door window in an effort, he says, to extricate the Complainant from the pickup. The Complainant steered to the right and accelerated forward, narrowly missing the front end of the police cruiser. She continued to accelerate and struck the wall and front entrance of a church situated at the west side of the parking lot, whereupon her airbag deployed and her vehicle came to a stop.
The officers approached the pickup, opened the driver’s door and ordered the Complainant to come out, which she did on her own power. The Complainant then also went to the ground of her own volition and was handcuffed by the officers. An ambulance was eventually summoned to the scene and the Complainant was transported to hospital.
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 is reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they are required or authorized to do by law. Observing a vehicle that matched one that had been reported stolen and recognizing the Complainant in the driver’s seat as the person who was reported to have stolen it, the SO and WO #1 were in the lawful discharge of their duty when they sought to arrest the Complainant. Regrettably, the Complainant attempted to evade apprehension and drove the pickup truck into the hard wall and doorway of a nearby building. Before she could do so, WO #1 attempted to thwart the Complainant’s plans by breaking the window of the driver’s door with his baton and forcibly removing her from the vehicle. I am satisfied the officer acted reasonably in his efforts. Given his and his partner’s proximity to the pickup, and realizing that the Complainant had just started the vehicle, the officer was within his rights in adopting the course he did in the interests of everyone’s safety. Undeterred, however, the Complainant managed to escape, but only very briefly. Her pickup travelled a short distance – a matter of several metres – before colliding with the church wall. Thereafter, it is apparent on the evidence, including the video recording of the incident, that the officers used only moderate force in guiding the Complainant to the ground and securing her in handcuffs. On this record, there is simply no basis for reasonably concluding that either of the SO or WO #1 used excessive force at any point in their dealings with the Complainant.
In the result, whether the fracture to the Complainant’s right hand was incurred in the motor vehicle collision, which seems most likely, or caused in the course of her arrest by the officers, I am satisfied that the officers conducted themselves lawfully throughout. Accordingly, there are no grounds for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.
Date: November 4, 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.