SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OCI-143
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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 that a 39-year-old woman (the “Complainant”) suffered.
Notification of the SIUOn June 18, 2020, the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) reported the following:
On June 18, 2020, at approximately 6:58 p.m., two NRPS police officers responded to an address on Preakness Street at the request of the Niagara Emergency Medical Services (EMS), which were experiencing issues with a drug-overdose patient. There were two EMS teams present. They were able to administer a sedative to the woman, who was identified as the Complainant. The Complainant had been cooperative with EMS but suddenly took off running. As the Complainant rounded a corner, EMS observed her leg buckle and she fell.
The two police officers assisted in apprehending the Complainant, who complained of severe pain to her left leg.
EMS transported the Complainant to the Greater Niagara General Hospital (GNGH) where she was diagnosed with a shattered left knee.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
ComplainantsComplainant: 39-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
Witness OfficersWO Interviewed
Subject OfficersSO Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right.
The SceneThe Complainant lived in a townhome complex located at an address on Preakness Street. There was a cluster of other townhome complexes around the vicinity and a parking lot area to the northeast of where the Complainant lived. The Complainant fell and broke her left leg in the parking lot.
Video/Audio/Photographic EvidenceThe SIU canvassed the area for any video or audio recordings, and photographic evidence, but was not able to locate any.
Communication Recordings Between NRPS and EMS
NRPS Radio Communications
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from NRPS:
- Call Log;
- Call printout;
- Dispatch Report;
- General Occurrence;
- General Occurrence (Previous Mental Health Act incident);
- Historic Occurrence Details-all three pages;
- Notes-the WO;
- Scenes of Crime Officer’s (SOCO) Photobrief;
- Unit History-the SO; and
- Unit History-the WO.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesIn addition to the materials received from the NRPS, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials from other sources:
- The Complainant’s medical record from GNGH;
- Niagara Regional Paramedic reports; and
- Paramedics’ written responses to SIU follow-up questions.
The paramedics arrived to find the Complainant on the porch of one of the homes in the vicinity of the parking lot. It was apparent that the Complainant was not of sound mind. Indeed, the Complainant was intoxicated at the time. She refused to be examined by the paramedics, and exhibited strange and irrational behaviour. Concerned with her well-being and level of agitation, the police were called to lend a hand.
The WO was the first to arrive on scene, followed shortly by the SO. The paramedics and officers attempted to coax the Complainant off the porch to be medically assessed, but to no avail. Neighbours in the area also tried convincing the Complainant to go with the paramedics, but she steadfastly refused. When the Complainant’s fiancé, CW #3, learned that she was in distress, he too came to the porch to prevail on the Complainant to leave the area with him.
At about 8:50 p.m., with CW #3, the officers and the paramedics still present in the area, the Complainant suddenly ran from the porch northward toward the parking lot. As she rounded an SUV in the lot, the Complainant was seen and heard to fall. The SO and the WO ran after her and found her a short distance away on the ground with her left leg clearly injured. The officers decided to apprehend her under the Mental Health Act in order to have her examined at hospital.
Section 17, Mental Health Act -- Action by police officer
(a) has threatened or attempted or is threatening or attempting to cause bodily harm to himself or herself;(b) has behaved or is behaving violently towards another person or has caused or is causing another person to fear bodily harm from him or her; or(c) has shown or is showing a lack of competence to care for himself or herself,
(d) serious bodily harm to the person;(e) serious bodily harm to another person; or(f) serious physical impairment of the person,
Analysis and Director's Decision
The WO and the SO were in the execution of their lawful duty when they responded to the scene to see if they could assist the paramedics with the Complainant. The paramedics were rightly concerned for the Complainant’s health and safety. She was clearly in mental distress, exhibiting signs and symptoms of drug-overdose, and refusing to be examined.
Once on scene, the WO and the SO acted with tact and professionalism toward the Complainant. There is no suggestion in the evidence, for example, of any force or needless aggression on the part of the officers. On the contrary, the officers were said to have acted with kindness and compassion for the Complainant’s plight at the time.
Upon finding the Complainant injured on the ground, the officers prudently and lawfully placed her under arrest pursuant to section 17 of the Mental Health Act so she could obtain the medical attention she needed.
On the aforementioned-record, I am satisfied that the SO and the WO acted lawfully throughout their dealings with the Complainant. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.
Date: September 28, 2020
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.