SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OCI-114

Warning:

This page contains graphic content that can shock, offend and upset.

Mandate of the SIU

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. The Unit’s jurisdiction covers more than 50 municipal, regional and provincial police services across Ontario.

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.

Information Restrictions

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. 
Pursuant to section 21 of FIPPA (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this document. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
  • 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.


Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)

Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.

Other proceedings, processes, and investigations

Information 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.

Mandate Engaged

The Unit’s investigative jurisdiction is limited to those incidents where there is a serious injury (including sexual assault allegations) or death in cases involving the police.

“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 42-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On May 21, 2020, at 5:56 a.m., the Peel Regional Police (PRP) notified the SIU of an injury suffered by the 42-year-old Complainant during his arrest.

According to the PRP, on May 20, 2020 at 6:56 p.m., the PRP received a call from the Complainant, who reported he was assaulting a woman whom he named. [1]

SO #2 and SO #1 were dispatched but could not locate the Complainant, as he had fled the scene. At 7:30 p.m., the Complainant was located in his apartment building in a fourth-floor stairwell. He was extremely intoxicated when he was arrested.

The Complainant was placed into a police cruiser and then started throwing himself against the security partition inside the vehicle. As a result, he was shackled. He was transported to PRP 11 Division and put in a cell.

On May 21, 2020, at 3:45 a.m., the Complainant began complaining of chest pain. He was transported to the Credit Valley Hospital and diagnosed as having suffered a fractured right rib. The Complainant was then returned to PRP 11 Division.

The Team

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1

Complainant:

42-year-old male interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed


Witness Officers

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed


Subject Officers

SO #1 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject officer’s legal right
SO #1 Declined interview, as is the subject officer’s legal right. Notes received and reviewed.


Evidence

The Scene

The Complainant was arrested inside the stairwell of an apartment building located on Bloor Street in Mississauga.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence


Custody Area Video


At 8:14 p.m., the Complainant was escorted into the custody area and his hands were handcuffed behind his back. The Complainant was obviously agitated. He was moving about with no indication he was experiencing any pain in his side.

The Complainant was placed into the Young Offender cell [2] at 8:21 p.m. At 8:25 p.m., the Complainant punched the padded cell wall with his right hand and struck the wall with his head. He then twice punched the window in the cell door.

At 8:34 p.m. the Complainant was removed from the cell. He was returned to the cell at 8:38 p.m. and rolled himself onto the bunk with no expression of pain. He then stood and twice struck his head on the cell wall and kicked at the wall once. At 9:22 p.m., the Complainant started to run his hand along his right flank. He arose from the cell bunk and walked around the cell while holding onto his right side.

At 10:29 p.m. the Complainant was removed from the cell. Paramedics were present in the custody area and one of the paramedics examined the Complainant’s right ribs. The Complainant was loaded onto a stretcher and removed through the sally port.

At 2:33 a.m., the Complainant was escorted into the custody area, with his hands handcuffed in front of him, by WO #6 and WO #5. While being searched, the Complainant continued to display little indication of pain.

The video recordings did not record any incidents in the custody area that might have accounted for the Complainant’s injured rib.

Police Communications Recordings

A female caller who declined to provide her surname reported a man had been hitting a woman and had then walked over to an apartment building on Bloor Street. The caller reported the man was known to loiter at that apartment building.

A man called 911 and reported a man had been slapping a woman. The victim had identified the culprit, who, according to information received from the victim, lived in an apartment in a building on Bloor Street East. Another male came on the phone and reported he lived in the same building as the culprit. He stated the woman wanted to charge the offender. He reported the victim’s name and the culprit’s name.

The dispatcher asked officers to respond to the Applewood Hills Plaza. It was reported a male was hitting a female behind the plaza. The female complainant did not appear to be injured and the culprit, who was reportedly intoxicated, then ran into an apartment building.

The dispatcher asked for police officers to respond to the apartment of a woman. The woman reported her son, the Complainant, was destroying things inside her apartment on Bloor Street.

SO #2 notified the dispatcher and other officers that the call from the apartment on Bloor Street was related to the assault on the female call and he was heading over to the apartment building.

WO #1 reported he was waiting in the lobby of the apartment building and had seen the male suspect exit the stairwell and then enter an elevator. It appeared the male exited the elevator on the fourth floor. SO #2 acknowledged the report and stated he and SO #1 were at the apartment building. WO #1 reported the Complainant was known to police and they would likely recognize him. He reported there were no criminal charges at that point. SO #2 responded the man, whose surname he gave, was arrestable for the assault. WO #1 advised that the Complainant’s mother reported that the Complainant usually loitered in the stairwells of the building.

SO #1 asked which stairwell the Complainant might be found in. WO #1 stated he only saw the man enter the elevator and saw that the elevator had stopped on the fourth floor. WO #2 then stated she was on scene.

The dispatcher called SO #2. The Complainant could be heard speaking out in the background of SO #2’s transmission. SO #2 stated they had the man in custody.

SO #1 was initially intending on transporting the Complainant to PRP 12 Division but the decision was made to transport him to 11 Division to be held for a bail hearing.

Materials obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the PRP:
  • Activity Log for Custody Event record for the Complainant;
  • Custody area video recordings;
  • Communications recordings;
  • Audio Copy Report-911 Calls;
  • Audio Copy Report-Radio Transmissions;
  • Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) report – assault on female;
  • Witness statement – the woman whom the Complainant had assaulted;
  • Witness statement – a civilian;
  • CAD report – disturbance at an address on Bloor Street;
  • Notes – WO #1 and WO #3;
  • Notes – another police officer who was not formally designated as a Witness Officer;
  • Person Details report for the Complainant;
  • Mugshot for the Complainant;
  • Prisoner Details Report for the Complainant;
  • PRP Occurrence report for the Complainant (Assault and Breach of Undertaking); and
  • PRP Occurrence report for the Complainant (Domestic Dispute).

Materials obtained from Other Sources

In addition to the materials received from the PRP, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials from other sources:
  • The Complainant’s medical records from the Credit Valley Hospital.

Incident Narrative

The following scenario emerges on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with the Complainant and several witness officers who had dealings with him during his period in police custody. As was their legal right, neither subject officer interviewed with the SIU, but SO #2 did consent to the release of his notes of the incident.

In the evening of May 20, 2020, the police received calls relating to the Complainant in two separate incidents. In the first series of calls, civilians contacted police to report that the Complainant had assaulted a woman in the area of Applewood Hills Plaza. SO #2 and SO #1 were dispatched to deal with the matter. The second call was made by the Complainant’s mother, complaining that her son was destroying things inside her apartment. WO #2 and WO #1 were dispatched to the apartment building, located on Bloor Street East.

Having spoken with the Complainant’s mother, WO #1 radioed that the Complainant might be located in the east stairwell of the apartment building. SO #2 and SO #1 checked the stairwell and located the Complainant near the third floor. The Complainant was placed under arrest for the assault of the woman, handcuffed and escorted outside where he was lodged in the backseat of SO #1’s cruiser.

The Complainant was transported to 11 Division and placed in a cell at about 8:21 p.m. At about 10:29 p.m., the Complainant, who had asked for an ambulance in relation to rib pain he was feeling, was removed from his cell and taken to hospital. He was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of a right rib and released back into the custody of the police.

Relevant Legislation

Section 25(1), Criminal Code -- Protection of persons acting under authority

25 (1) Every one who is required or authorized by law to do anything in the administration or enforcement of the law
(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,
is, if he acts on reasonable grounds, justified in doing what he is required or authorized to do and in using as much force as is necessary for that purpose.

Analysis and Director's Decision

On May 20, 2020, the Complainant was arrested by PRP officers and subsequently taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured right rib. SO #2 and SO #1 were the arresting officers and identified as the subject officers for purposes of the SIU investigation. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either subject officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s arrest and injury.

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. Based on the information they had been provided on dispatch, I am unable to reasonably conclude that SO #1 and SO #2 lacked a lawful basis for arresting the Complainant. The issue turns to the propriety of the force used by the officers in effecting the arrest.

Some evidence indicates that the Complainant was subjected to excessive force by the officers. The officers, according to this evidence, slapped the Complainant’s face and head and slammed his body against the concrete wall of the stairwell two to three times. There is some suggestion that this impact by the Complainant’s body with the wall broke his rib.

In the absence of corroboration, I am unable to place much if any weight on this incriminating evidence of unnecessary force. The incriminating evidence also directly conflicted with evidence from multiple independent sources that the Complainant physically assaulted a woman. Furthermore, the Complainant’s injuries, which might have been some corroboration of the police force suggested by the incriminating evidence, are equivocal in the instant case given the possibility that they incurred in the course of what appears to have been the Complainant’s violent and assaultive behaviour prior to his arrest.

As for what the subject officers say occurred in the stairwell, I am also without solid evidence. Neither officer, as was his right, interviewed with the SIU. SO #2’s notes, which were not tested by questions via an interview, suggest that the Complainant verbally objected to his arrest, but that it was otherwise uneventful.

In the final analysis, as there is an insufficiently reliable record to conclude with any degree of confidence that SO #1 and/or SO #2 used more force that was reasonably necessary in effecting an otherwise lawful arrest, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case. The file is closed.


Date: November 9, 2020

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Director
Special Investigations Unit

Endnotes

  • 1) This was the information provided by the police service when reporting the incident, but it does not appear to be correct. [Back to text]
  • 2) This was because the Young Offender cell was padded, not because the Complainant was thought to be an offender under the age of 18 years. [Back to text]

Note:

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.