SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OCI-351


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Mandate of the SIU

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving an official where there has been death, serious injury, the discharge of a firearm at a person or an allegation of sexual assault. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019 (SIU Act), officials are defined as police officers, special constables of the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers under the Legislative Assembly Act. The SIU’s jurisdiction covers more than 50 municipal, regional and provincial police services across Ontario.

Under the SIU Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence was committed. If such grounds exist, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the official. Alternatively, in cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director cannot lay charges. Where no charges are laid, a report of the investigation is prepared and released publicly, except in the case of reports dealing with allegations of sexual assault, in which case the SIU Director may consult with the affected person and exercise a discretion to not publicly release the report having regard to the affected person’s privacy interests.

Information Restrictions

Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019

Pursuant to section 34, certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following: 
  • The name of, and any information identifying, a subject official, witness official, civilian witness or affected person. 
  • Information that may result in the identity of a person who reported that they were sexually assaulted being revealed in connection with the sexual assault. 
  • Information that, in the opinion of the SIU Director, could lead to a risk of serious harm to a person. 
  • Information that discloses investigative techniques or procedures.  
  • Information, the release of which is prohibited or restricted by law.  
  • Information in which a person’s privacy interest in not having the information published clearly outweighs the public interest in having the information published. 

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

Pursuant to section14 (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 that 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 (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following: 
  •  The names of persons, including civilian witnesses, and subject and witness officials; 
  • 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

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

Other proceedings, processes, and investigations

Information may also have 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

Pursuant to section 15 of the SIU Act, the SIU may investigate the conduct of officials, be they police officers, special constables of the Niagara Parks Commission or peace officers under the Legislative Assembly Act, that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault or the discharge of a firearm at a person.

A person sustains a “serious injury” for purposes of the SIU’s jurisdiction if they: sustain an injury as a result of which they are admitted to hospital; suffer a fracture to the skull, or to a limb, rib or vertebra; suffer burns to a significant proportion of their body; lose any portion of their body; or, as a result of an injury, experience a loss of vision or hearing.

In addition, a “serious injury” means any other injury sustained by a person that is likely to interfere with the person’s health or comfort and is not transient or trifling in nature.

This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into the serious injury a 35-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On December 15, 2020 at 9:04 a.m., the Barrie Police Service (BPS) reported that on December 6, 2020 at about 4:55 a.m., the Complainant was arrested for assault at the Quality Inn, 55 Hart Drive. He was taken to the police station. While BPS officials were walking the Complainant to the cells, he became unsteady on his feet and unresponsive. A BPS official administered naloxone and CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) was performed. The Complainant was taken to Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) where he was intubated. The Complainant was not expected to recover.

The Team

Date and time team dispatched: 12/15/2020 at 9:59 a.m.

Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 12/17/2020 at 2:53 p.m.

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 0
Number of SIU Collision Reconstructionists assigned: 0

Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):

35-year-old male interviewed on December 17, 2020, medical records obtained and reviewed

Civilian Witness (CW)

CW Interviewed on December 15, 2020

Subject Official (SO)

SO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right

Witness Officials (WO)

WO #1 Interviewed on December 20, 2020, notes obtained and reviewed
WO #2 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary

Investigative Delay

The first witness official was not interviewed until five days after the notification as it was initially believed that the Complainant would die when taken off life support. It was eventually learned that the Complainant was not on life support, and if he survived, he could be interviewed; in fact, he was interviewed two days after notification. The investigation revealed that the Complainant was not in police custody when he had a medical episode which caused concern for the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) guards. CNCC staff notified BPS of a medical concern. Interviews were started once the focus of the investigation was narrowed to the Complainant’s care and BPS’s duty of care prior to admission to RVH.


The Scene

The series of events of concern to the SIU transpired in a room at the Quality Inn in Barrie and the BPS station.

Physical Evidence

Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Report

The CAD Report was received from BPS on December 22, 2020.

At about 4:05 a.m., on December 6, 2020, the CW called BPS from the Comfort Inn. At about 4:06 a.m., BPS officials were sent to the Comfort Inn, and they called an ambulance for the CW at about 4:09 a.m. At about 4:14 a.m., two other BPS officials arrived to assist and they dealt with the CW. At about 5:00 a.m., the SO reported a man by name (now known to be the Complainant, who provided an incorrect name at the time) was in custody for assault. At about 5:12 a.m., the SO took the Complainant to the BPS detention unit, arriving at about 5:31 a.m.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence

Body-worn Camera (BWC) Video

The BWC video was obtained from BPS on December 21, 2020.

The SO attended the Quality Inn during the early hours of December 6, 2020. He had a BWC and it recorded his interaction with the victim of an assault (CW), and his arrest of the Complainant for that assault. The BWC video revealed the Complainant was arrested without incident and taken to the BPS detention unit. No complaints of injury or mistreatment by any BPS official were recorded on the footage.

BPS Booking Video

The booking video was obtained from BPS on December 21, 2020.

On December 6, 2020, at about 5:23 a.m., the SO brought the Complainant into the booking area and introduced him to WO #1. The SO advised WO #1 of the name the man had told him. WO #1 had previous dealings with him and knew him by another name as the Complainant. At about 5:24 a.m., WO #1 began asking the required COVID questions and confirmed there were no injuries. The Complainant said he was not taking medications and did not have any diseases. At about 5:26 a.m., the handcuffs were removed. The Complainant faced the pillar with his hands over his head as the SO began the search of his person. The SO continued to tell the Complainant to wake up as he appeared to be nodding off. The Complainant was asked four times if he had taken any drugs; but there was no response. At about 5:28 a.m., the Complainant was told to sit on the bench for his safety. Repeatedly, the Complainant was asked what drug he took but there was no response. WO #1 stated the Complainant had to be taken to the hospital. The Complainant kept drifting off when questioned. Efforts to hold his head up were made, but he was becoming non-responsive. At about 5:30 a.m., WO #1 administered a nasal dose of naloxone. At about 5:31 a.m., WO #1 administered a second dose of naloxone to the Complainant as they tried to wake him up. A slight pulse that was initially felt disappeared. The Complainant was immediately placed to the floor and laid on his back. Chest compressions were started by the SO. At about 5:32 a.m., the Complainant was put on his right side. A third dose of naloxone was administered but it was not seen in the video because of BPS officials surrounding the Complainant. Moaning was heard as the Complainant continued to be told to breathe and wake up. At about 5:33 a.m., the Complainant was more on his stomach as he was reminded to breathe and asked to wake up. At about 5:39 a.m., the ambulance arrived and the two paramedics began the medical care of the Complainant. At about 5:40 a.m., three fire department members arrived and the Complainant was lifted onto a stretcher and transported to the RVH.

Materials Obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU obtained the following materials and documents from BPS between December 18 and 22, 2020:
  • Arrest Report (past incident);
  • Arrest Report- authored by SO;
  • BPS Policy- Search of Persons;
  • CAD (x2);
  • Custody Record;
  • Notes- WO #1;
  • Notes- WO #2;
  • BWC Video- the SO;
  • BPS Cell Video; and
  • Audio Interview- CW.

Materials Obtained from Other Sources

The SIU obtained the following record on December 21, 2020 from non-police sources:
  • Medical Records from RVH.

Incident Narrative

The following scenario emerges on the information collected by the SIU, which included video recordings from the SO’s body worn camera and a camera in the BPS booking room, which together captured most if not all of the police interaction with the Complainant. In the morning of December 6, 2020, BPS received a 911 call from the CW. The CW indicated that she had just been assaulted by the Complainant in a room of the Quality Inn in Barrie. Officers were dispatched to attend at the Quality Inn and speak with the CW.

The SO arrived at the Quality Inn and proceeded to take the Complainant into custody. The arrest was uneventful. The Complainant was transported to the BPS and paraded before WO #1.

As the Complainant was being booked at the BPS before WO #1, he became increasingly drowsy and unsteady on his feet. Suspecting that the Complainant was overdosing on opiates, the Complainant was placed on a bench and then on the floor where WO #1 delivered three doses of nasal naloxone and CPR was begun by the SO. At about 5:40 a.m., paramedics arrived at the station and took over the Complainant’s medical care. Within minutes, the Complainant was loaded into an ambulance and taken to RVH.

Arriving at hospital at 6:10 a.m., the Complainant was revived and responded to further naloxone treatment. He remained in hospital until December 17, 2020, whereupon he was discharged into the custody of guards with the CNCC.

Relevant Legislation

Section 215, Criminal Code - Failure to Provide Necessaries

215 (1) Every one is under a legal duty

(c) to provide necessaries of life to a person under his charge if that person
(i) is unable, by reason of detention, age, illness, mental disorder or other cause, to withdraw himself from that charge, and
(ii) is unable to provide himself with necessaries of life.

(2) Every person commits an offence who, being under a legal duty within the meaning of subsection (1), fails without lawful excuse to perform that duty, if
(b) with respect to a duty imposed by paragraph (1)(c), the failure to perform the duty endangers the life of the person to whom the duty is owed or causes or is likely to cause the health of that person to be injured permanently.

Sections 219 and 221, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing bodily harm

219 (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
(a) in doing anything, or
(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.

(2) For the purposes of this section, duty means a duty imposed by law.

221 Every one who by criminal negligence causes bodily harm to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

Analysis and Director's Decision

On December 6, 2020, the Complainant lapsed into acute medical distress while in the custody of the BPS. The officer who had arrested the Complainant, the SO, was identified as the subject officer for purposes of the SIU investigation. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s medical condition.

The only offences that arise for consideration are failure to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing bodily harm contrary to sections 215 and 221 of the Criminal Code, respectively. Liability in respect of the former is not made out unless the conduct in question amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. The latter is a more serious offence and captures conduct that is a marked and substantial departure from a reasonable level of care. In my view, it is plain that the SO did not transgress the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law.

There is no suggestion in the evidence that the Complainant’s arrest for having assaulted the CW was unlawful. Given the information at the officer’s disposal on dispatch and what he learned personally after speaking with the CW, I am satisfied there were grounds to take the Complainant into custody.

Thereafter, the evidence indicates that the SO and WO #1 conducted themselves with due regard for the Complainant’s health and safety. On the evidence gathered by the SIU, the arrest was without incident, as was the Complainant’s transport to the station. Soon after it became apparent at the station that the Complainant’s condition was deteriorating, WO #1 and the SO acted quickly to render medical attention. Suspecting a drug overdose, WO #1 delivered three doses of naloxone via the nasal passage. And when the Complainant began to lose vital signs, the SO began chest compressions. As this was happening, an ambulance was summoned and arrived at about 5:40 a.m., not more than 20 minutes from the time the Complainant had been brought into the booking area.

As there is some evidence that the Complainant had secreted drugs into his rectum prior to being arrested, the issue arises whether there was a want of care associated with the fact that the Complainant was not subjected to a strip search after being taken into custody. I do not believe so. Strip searches, as the Supreme Court of Canada made clear in R. v. Golden, [2001] 3 SCR 679, are not to be performed as a matter of routine. Rather, given their inherent impact on the dignity of the person, strip searches are only countenanced where there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe they are necessary. In the instant case, there was nothing in the circumstance surrounding the Complainant’s arrest to suggest he had drugs on his person. Beyond that, it is not at all clear that a strip search, even had one been done, would have discovered drugs, or would have discovered them at a point in time sufficient to have made a difference to the Complainant’s well-being.

In the result, as I am unable to reasonably conclude on the aforementioned-record that the SO, in concert with WO #1, conducted himself other than lawfully throughout his interaction

with the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.

Date: February 8, 2021

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
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.