SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-TCI-126
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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 37-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered.
Notification of the SIUOn May 30, 2020, at 9:25 a.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) notified the SIU of an injury suffered by the 37-year-old Complainant.
According to the TPS, at 4:57 a.m., four TPS officers responded to an address on Jeffcoat Drive after a Civilian Witness (CW) called police to report her son was violent and making threats of suicide. When the officers tried to apprehend the Complainant, he became violent and was subdued. He was taken to Etobicoke General Hospital, where he was diagnosed as having suffered a broken nose.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Complainant:37-year-old male interviewed
Civilian WitnessesCW Interviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary
WO #6 Interviewed
WO #7 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary
Subject OfficersSO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
The SceneThe incident occurred inside a main-floor bedroom in a home located on Jeffcoat Drive in Toronto.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence The SIU canvassed the area for any video or audio recordings, and photographic evidence, but was not able to locate any.
Police Communications Recordings
Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Report
Materials obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the TPS:
- A copy of the communications recordings;
- The CAD Event Details Report;
- Email Disclosure from TPS for May 30, 2020;
- General Occurrence Report;
- The notebook entries of all designated witness officers;
- TPS policies regarding communicable diseases; and
- The Versadex history for the Complainant.
WO #1 and WO #2 were the first to arrive at the residence, followed by the SO, and WO #3 and WO #4. The officers spoke with the CW before turning their attention to the Complainant. The Complainant explained that he had come home very late and argued with his parents. He told the officers he was going to bed and then proceeded to turn off his bedroom light and close the door on the officers. The officers opened the door and indicated they were still conducting their investigation.
Following a check by WO #1 via her police cruiser computer, indicating that the Complainant had previously been apprehended under the Mental Health Act (MHA), the decision was made to arrest the Complainant and take him to hospital for psychiatric examination. The Complainant objected to his apprehension, noting that he had no intention of attending hospital given the risk of contracting COVID-19. When the officers placed their hands on the Complainant to take him into custody, the Complainant physically resisted. He flailed his arms and legs at the officers, striking some of them in the process. At one point, he spat at the SO, who reacted by punching the Complainant in the nose.
Soon after the punch, the officers took the Complainant to the floor and handcuffed him. He was escorted outside the residence, placed in an ambulance and taken to hospital where his fractured nose was diagnosed. He also underwent psychiatric assessment at hospital and was released later that morning into the custody of the police.
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 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
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 was reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they were authorized or required to do by law. I accept that the officers were in the lawful discharge of their duties when they decided to apprehend the Complainant under section 17 of the MHA. Given what they learned from the CW of the Complainant’s suicidal ideations and violent behaviour that day, and his history of attempted suicide, they had good cause to believe that the Complainant was in a state of mental disorder associated with a risk of harm to himself or his parents.
With respect to the force used to arrest the Complainant, there is insufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that it was excessive. The Complainant strenuously resisted arrest, kicking and punching some of the officers in the process as he flailed his limbs. When the Complainant spat at the SO, striking the SO and WO #1 with some of the spittle, the officers reacted by punching the Complainant. WO #1 directed her blow to the Complainant’s chest; the SO struck the Complainant in the nose. In my view, the punches, delivered in direct response to being spat at by the Complainant, were commensurate with the Complainant’s assaultive behaviour and fell within the range of reasonable force in the moment to deter any further violence of the sort.
In the final analysis, while I accept that the SO broke the Complainant’s nose when he punched him in the face, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the officer’s force fell within the limits of legal justification. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges and the file is closed.
Date: November 9, 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.