SIU Director’s Report - Case # 19-OCI-272
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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 serious injuries sustained by a 35-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn November 17, 2019, at 5:24 p.m., the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant. The NRPS advised that at 12:52 p.m., on November 17, 2019, NRPS police officers arrested the Complainant at the Walmart store at 420 Vansickle Road in St. Catharines, regarding an unwanted person call. The Complainant’s father, the Civilian Witness (CW), attended to assist with his son who had a rented U-Haul truck with him. The Complainant attempted to take a vehicle at the scene and police officers arrested him. He resisted and was grounded at the back of a NRPS vehicle. He may have struck the trailer hitch attached to the NRPS vehicle with his head. The Complainant was taken to the St. Catharines Site of the Niagara Health System (STCH), where he was diagnosed with facial fractures; he was also found to be under the influence of crystal methamphetamine. The NRPS vehicle was held for examination.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1
Complainant:35-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
Civilian WitnessesCW Interviewed
Witness OfficersWO Interviewed
Subject OfficersSO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
The SceneThis incident occurred in the busy parking lot of the plaza, which contained a lot of business premises including the Walmart store, at 420 Vansickle Road in St. Catharines.
Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) Footage from Best Buy
The Complainant walked over to the counter area, leaned against the end of the counter, and spoke with an employee. Staff walked through the area coming and going to the office area. The Complainant remained in the same position and did not engage with them. The Complainant was handed a waste basket from an employee. He took the waste basket and leaned over it. He handed back the waste basket and then continued to stand at the end of the counter. At 11:24:50 a.m., the Complainant walked out of camera view.
CCTV Footage from the LCBO
Police Communications Recordings
911 Calls to NRPS
The second 911 call received was at 11:48 a.m. and was from a person at Walmart indicating that a man just left Walmart and was watching child pornography on his phone; he left in a truck or car. It was hard to understand the caller who did not answer questions asked by the call-taker. The caller hung up (a trace was placed on the cell phone used in this 911 call and it came back registered to the Complainant).
Call to the NRPS from District #1 Station Public Access Phone
NRPS Radio Communications Recording
At 12:14 a.m., the WO went over the air to have an unwanted person call generated for the Walmart store. He indicated he would be inside the store trying to find the man, the Complainant, and take him out of the store. He again went over the air and requested another unit as he was probably going to have to drag the Complainant out. The WO then advised he was in the parking lot by a U-Haul truck.
The WO saw a call on his Mobile Data Terminal that the Complainant’s father, the CW, was at the police station in St. Catharines making a report about his son. He asked the dispatcher to have the CW attend at the Walmart, as his son had some mental health issues going on. The dispatcher advised that the Complainant’s father would attend. At 12:52 p.m., the WO advised that the Complainant was in custody and was bleeding under his right eye.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the NRPS:
- Detailed Call Summary (x3);
- NRPS General Order - Use of Force Policy;
- NRPS General Order - Powers of Arrest;
- Recording of 911 call from the Best Buy Store;
- Recording of 911 call from the Complainant;
- Recording of telephone call made by the CW from the public access telephone at NRPS District #1 Station;
- NRPS Scenes of Crime Officer (SOCO) photograph of Police Cruiser;
- NRPS SOCO photographs of injuries to the Complainant;
- Photo of scene marked by the WO; and
- Notes of the SO and the WO.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesInvestigators also secured and reviewed the following materials from other sources:
- Medical Records from STCH;
- Ambulance Call Report;
- CCTV footage from Walmart; 
- CCTV footage from Best Buy; and
- CCTV footage from the LCBO.
Upon the WO’s arrival at the store, he and the Complainant moved outside to the parking lot together. The WO believed that the Complainant was either under the influence of a narcotic, in a mental health crisis, or both, and he called for assistance, with the SO attending shortly thereafter.
While outside in the parking lot, at one point, the Complainant entered his father’s (the CW) motor vehicle, sat in the driver’s seat, and motioned as if to drive away. Believing the Complainant was impaired by drugs and/or alcohol, the WO and SO arrested the Complainant, took him out of the car and attempted to place him in handcuffs. Once the Complainant was handcuffed, it was discovered that he had a cut under his right eye which was bleeding heavily.
The Complainant was transported to hospital, where he was assessed as having a fracture to the orbital bone of his right eye.
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
Once outside in the parking lot, the WO became aware that the Complainant’s father, the CW, was at the police station filing a missing person’s report on his son. The WO advised the dispatcher to notify the CW of his son’s location and ask him to attend. While awaiting the arrival of the CW, the WO moved his police vehicle behind the U-Haul truck that the Complainant had driven into the lot, effectively blocking it in and preventing the Complainant from leaving. At that time, the WO found the Complainant passed out in the driver’s seat, but there were no keys in the ignition.
Upon his father’s arrival, the Complainant immediately jumped out of the U-Haul truck, approached his father, and became aggressive, shouting obscenities at his father. The Complainant then walked away in the parking lot, while the CW spoke to the police officers. Upon the Complainant’s return, he got into the driver’s seat of his father’s car and reached for the gear shift as if to put the vehicle in motion. Believing that the Complainant was impaired and therefore could not legally be in care or control of a motor vehicle, the officers immediately removed him and told him that he was under arrest. The Complainant became aggressive and grabbed onto his father’s jacket and refused to let go, while the officers attempted to effect the arrest. The Complainant was exhibiting extreme strength and his father was unable to get him to release his hold. The SO and WO also tried to get the Complainant to let go of his father; when they were unable to do so, the WO delivered two distractionary punches to the left side of the Complainant’s face, which appeared to have no effect on the Complainant. The Complainant still refused to release his hold on his father, and actively continued to resist the officers’ attempts to place him under arrest. The SO bent down and wrapped his arms around the Complainant’s legs, sweeping them out from under him, which was effective in causing the Complainant to go to the ground. As the Complainant fell, he pulled his father down with him. The Complainant turned slightly to his right, as he was falling, striking his face on the rear bumper of the police vehicle when he went down to the ground. It was immediately observed that the Complainant was bleeding from his facial area. The police officers then knelt to either side of the Complainant and handcuffed him, while the Complainant continued to resist.
Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, a police officer, if he or she acts on reasonable grounds, is justified in using as much force as is necessary in the execution of a lawful duty. Both the WO and SO were in the execution of their duties in arresting the Complainant for being in the care or control of a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. When the Complainant violently resisted his arrest and refused to release his hold on his father, the WO delivered two distractionary blows to the Complainant’s left facial area. Based on the evidence, it is clear that the Complainant was violently resisting the efforts of the police officers to place him under arrest and into handcuffs. Even after the WO delivered the distractionary blows, the Complainant refused to release his grip on his father and continued to fight against the police officers who were trying to subdue him and place him in handcuffs. In order to overcome the Complainant’s resistance, the officers took him to the ground. Because of his active and violent resistance, he took his father down with him and, in doing so, he struck his face on the rear bumper of the police vehicle, causing his injury. Even then, the Complainant continued to resist and it took additional effort by both police officers to finally get him into handcuffs.
While it is clear that the Complainant sustained his injury when he was taken to the ground by the SO and WO, I am satisfied that this level of force was reasonably necessary in the circumstances to gain control over the Complainant and to place him in handcuffs. I note the Complainant was described as being extremely strong, with the WO describing him as having “crazy strength.” Additionally, I note that the two distractionary blows delivered by the WO had absolutely no effect on the Complainant, and he showed no reaction to the strikes, nor did it appear to deter or lessen his resistance in any way. As such, it appears clear that in order to gain control over the Complainant, it was necessary for the officers to take further action and they opted to take him to the ground. This level of force falls within the scope of that permitted by law. Accordingly, I am unable to form reasonable grounds to believe that either of the SO or the WO committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s injury. As such, no charges will issue, and this file is closed.
Date: May 11, 2020
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) Investigators requested CCTV footage from the Walmart store for the period in question. When the CCTV footage was received, however, it was found to be of no evidential value as the incorrect time period had been copied. Several subsequent attempts to secure the relevant footage were unsuccessful. [Back to text]
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.