SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-OCI-197
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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 61-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn August 18, 2019, at 6:40 a.m., the Barrie Police Service (BPS) reported an injury to the Complainant.
The BPS advised that on August 18, 2019, at 4:07 a.m., the BPS received a call to attend to two men fighting at the Barrie Public Library at 60 Worsley Street. When a police officer arrived, the Complainant was arrested and taken to the ground.
The Complainant was taken to the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVHC) and diagnosed with a broken left arm.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
Complainant:61-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
Subject OfficersSO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
The SceneThe Complainant was arrested and taken to the concrete ground outside the Barrie Public Library. There was no scene to examine and it was not preserved.
Booking Hall Video
Non-Emergency Telephone Call to BPS
CW #1 reported she heard one of the men say he would stab another. She told the call taker she had not seen a knife and that the men concerned were sitting beside some garbage cans. She described the man who was banging his head on the window [now known to have been the Complainant]. She described how he had been arguing with a younger man who had left the area.
BPS Radio Communications
The SO and WO #1, in separate police cruisers, responded to the call. The SO reported that he had the Complainant in custody arrested under the Liquor License Act (LLA) for public intoxication. He reported that he was going to await the arrival of WO #1 before he moved the Complainant to his police cruiser.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the BPS:
- Event Details;
- Audio Copy-Non-emergency telephone call;
- Audio Copy-Radio Communications;
- Sally-port, Booking Hall video;
- Duty Report of WO #1; and
- Notes of witness officers and the SO.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesInvestigators also obtained and reviewed the following materials:
- Contemporaneous Handwritten notes of CW #1;
- Medical Report from RVHC; and
- Emergency Medical Services - Ambulance Call Report.
The SO was the first officer to arrive. He observed a dozen or so homeless persons sleeping under the overhang at the south side of the library east of the entrance doors. Apart from the Complainant and CW #2, who were drinking beer and speaking loudly, they were all sleeping or resting quietly. CW #2 was asked to leave by the officer and agreed to do so.
The Complainant was not as cooperative when he too was asked to leave the premises. He swore at the SO, objected to his presence and challenged the officer to a fight. The SO replied that he was not interested in fighting but did want the Complainant to vacate the area, warning the Complainant repeatedly that he would otherwise be arrested for public intoxication. The Complainant was not appeased; he ripped his T-shirt to reveal his right bicep muscle and again invited the officer to fight him. The SO reacted by shoving the Complainant into one of the pillars supporting the library overhang. There followed a brief struggle between the two as the SO took the Complainant face-first to the ground, whereupon the officer was able to secure the Complainant’s arms in handcuffs behind him. The takedown resulted in the Complainant’s fractured left arm.
WO #1 arrived at the library to find the Complainant on the ground in handcuffs. He and the SO assisted the Complainant to his feet and lodged him in the backseat of the SO’s cruiser. The Complainant repeatedly complained that his arm was broken and asked for medical attention. Upon his arrival at the police station, an ambulance was summoned and took the Complainant 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,
Section 31(4), Liquor Licence Act -- Intoxicated in a public place
(a) In a place to which the general public is invited or permitted access; or(b) In any part of a residence that is used in common by persons occupying more than one dwelling in the residence.
Section 31(5), Liquor Licence Act -- Arrest without warrant
Analysis and Director's Decision
It should be noted that there is some evidence presenting a different version of what occurred around the Complainant’s arrest. Among the material differences is the suggestion that the Complainant was grounded by two police officers without any provocation on his part. The suggestion that the Complainant was passive is belied by the accounts of independent eyewitnesses, whose evidence indicates that the Complainant behaved in a threatening matter toward a single officer ahead of the takedown and then struggled with the officer following the initial shove into the pillar. For these and other reasons, it would be unwise and unsafe to place much if any credence on the more incriminating evidence.
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. The Complainant was clearly intoxicated by alcohol when confronted by the SO and asked to leave to the area in front of the library – a public space. When the Complainant refused and then threatened the officer with violence in words and deeds, the SO concluded, reasonably in my view, that the Complainant’s arrest was necessary in the interests of the officer’s safety, as well as his own. Accordingly, I am satisfied that the SO was acting lawfully when he moved in to arrest the Complainant under section 31(5) of the LLA.
Turning to the propriety of the force used by the SO – a shove followed by a takedown – I am unable to reasonably conclude on the evidence that the officer exceeded the limits prescribed by the criminal law. The Complainant was the aggressor throughout his interaction with the SO. When his belligerence became overtly threatening to the SO, the officer was within his rights in using a measure of moderate force to push the Complainant away from him. Thereafter, I am satisfied that the takedown, following a brief struggle between the SO and the Complainant on their feet, was a reasonable tactic in the circumstances; in that position, the officer could better deal with the Complainant’s combativeness and take him safely into custody. While it is regrettable that the Complainant’s left arm was broken in the process of being grounded, there is no indication whatever that the SO intended to inflict any injury, nor that the injury was anything other than an unfortunate accident.
In conclusion, as there are no reasonable grounds to believe, in my view, that the Complainant’s arrest was unlawful or that his injury was the result of excessive force, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges against the SO. The file is therefore 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.