SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-TFP-347
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Mandate of the SIU
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.
Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019Pursuant 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 ActPursuant 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, 2004Pursuant to this legislation, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Other proceedings, processes, and investigationsInformation 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.
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 discharge of a firearm at a 33-year-old man (the “Complainant”) by an official.
Notification of the SIUOn December 11, 2020, at 11:09 p.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) notified the SIU of the discharge of a less lethal firearm at an individual.
At approximately 9:42 p.m. that evening, the TPS was called to the newcomer and refugee shelter located at 5800 Yonge Street in Toronto. A resident of the shelter was reportedly in crisis and holding a knife. Responding TPS officers deployed both a less lethal weapon [shotgun] and a conducted energy weapon (CEW). The Complainant was apprehended and taken to North York General Hospital.
TPS reported the Complainant remained in an excited state at the hospital and was incoherent. The Complainant reportedly suffered bruising as a result of being struck by the less lethal weapon projectiles.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 12/12/2020 at 12:25 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 12/12/2020 at 1:04 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):33-year-old male, not interviewed 
Civilian Witnesses (CW)CW #1 Interviewed on January 21, 2021
CW #2 Interviewed on January 21, 2021
Subject Official (SO)SO Interviewed on February 8, 2021, notes received and reviewed
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed on January 20, 2021, notes received and reviewed
WO #2 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary
The Scene The SIU arrived on scene at 1:04 a.m. on December 12, 2020.
Figure 1 – Google aerial view of the scene
5800 Yonge Street is an office building that is scheduled to be demolished to allow for the construction of two condominium towers. The building had been leased to the Homes First Society to be used as a warming centre and shelter, until such time as demolition of the building was commenced.
The building is located on the west side of Yonge Street. At the front (east side) of the building there is a circular driveway. Along the south side of the building there is a wheelchair-accessible ramp providing access to the front doors of the building. South of the ramp is a row of parking spaces. The driveway continues to the rear of the building, where a large parking lot is located (west side of building).
The scene was examined and two Super-Sock less lethal projectiles were recovered in the parking area at the south side of the building. Two spent Super-Sock shotshell husks were recovered from the wheelchair-accessible ramp.
Figure 2 – A Super-Sock projectile found at the scene
Figure 3 – The SO’s less lethal firearm
Figure 4 – The Complainant’s knife
An examination was conducted in the rear parking lot, where WO #1’s CEW had reportedly been deployed, but no anti-felon identification (AFID) tags could be located to indicate the precise area where the CEW was deployed.
An employee of the shelter stated the video cameras mounted on the outside of the building were not functioning.
The SIU investigators then attended the TPS 31 Division station, where WO #1’s CEW was downloaded and the less lethal weapon was photographed. The TPS turned over the folding knife collected from the Complainant.
The SIU did not attend the hospital, in consideration of the COVID-19 outbreak and reports from police that the Complainant remained in an agitated state at the hospital.
Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) Report
On December 11, 2020, at 9:42 p.m., the TPS was notified that a 33-year-old man was standing in the parking lot at 5800 Yonge Street threatening self-harm. The man, the Complainant, was not being violent, but he had been aggressively screaming in the parking lot for two hours. The Complainant was reportedly yelling he intended to kill himself if anyone attempted to approach him. At 9:45 p.m., it was reported the Complainant was in possession of a knife. It was also reported that other residents of the shelter had tried to approach the Complainant, but he threatened to kill himself or the other residents.
At 10:04 p.m., it was reported the Complainant was in custody and the knife had been recovered.
TPS In-Car Camera System (ICCS) Recordings
At 9:56 p.m., a TPS police vehicle arrived at the shelter. The police officer operating that vehicle encountered a man [the Complainant] standing on the south driveway and holding a knife in his right hand, above his head. The Complainant walked toward the police vehicle while yelling indiscernibly and motioning with his left hand, and the police officer reversed and parked his police vehicle in the roundabout of the driveway, behind an ambulance.
The police officer unholstered his CEW and held it in his right hand. He broadcasted that the Complainant was yelling and screaming aggressively, and was standing on the south side of the building, holding a knife in his right hand. The police officer requested the Emergency Task Force be dispatched.
At 9:53 p.m., the SO asked to be added to the call. The SO advised he had a less lethal shotgun on board his vehicle. At 9:55 p.m., the SO arrived at the shelter.
The Complainant was standing alone on the south side of the driveway, holding a shiny object [his knife] in his right hand. The Complainant was gesturing with the knife in his right hand.
While a police officer initiated verbal contact with the Complainant, the SO, armed with the less lethal shotgun, took a position of cover behind a tall tree.
The SO and approximately eight other police officers stood in a row, at a safe distance, facing the Complainant. One of the police officers was armed with a CEW. Two paramedics stood behind the row of police officers.
The Complainant continued to yell and gesture with the knife in his right hand. As the Complainant began walking backwards, the SO moved toward the accessibility ramp on the south side of the building. The Complainant continued to move backward, and the row of police officers continued to follow him.
At 10:02 p.m., the Complainant continued to move toward the rear of the building, with approximately six police officers following him. He continued to yell and gesture with the knife in his right hand. At 10:03 p.m., the SO discharged his less lethal weapon. Three seconds later, a second discharge was heard, as officers moved toward the Complainant.
At 10:03 p.m., several police officers ran to the west side of the building and out of camera view. One police officer yelled, “Drop the knife,” and, “Get on the ground.”
At 9:57 p.m., another police vehicle recorded dialogue between the Complainant and TPS officers.
A police officer spoke to the Complainant, while a row of police officers stood at a safe distance. The police officer asked the Complainant, “My man, what’s going on? What’s your name my friend?” The Complainant replied, “Fuck off!” The police officer said, “No one wants to hurt you, okay?” and the Complainant replied, “Shoot me.” The police officer said, “No one is gonna kill you… can you do me a favour and drop the knife?” The Complainant replied, “No.”
The police officer continued his attempts to establish a rapport with the Complainant. The Complainant continued to tell the police officer to leave him alone. At 10:00 p.m., the Complainant said, “I want you to kill me.” The police officer replied, “Nobody wants to shoot you… we’re here to help you, okay?”
The Complainant noticed police officers near him, and he began to walk backward, toward the rear of the building.
At 10:00 p.m., the police officer speaking to the Complainant said, “I need you to come to me. I want to help you, okay? But for me to do that, I need you to put the knife down?” The Complainant replied, “No.” The police officer asked, “Can you put it in your pocket then?”
The police officer said, “Look around. We’re all here to help you.” The Complainant replied, “I want to die.” The police officer responded, “Nobody wants you to die. Everybody is here to help you. Nobody wants to shoot you. We’re here to help you. I need you to focus on me,” and the Complainant said, “I don’t give a shit. Kill me now.”
At 10:03 p.m., while the police officer continued to implore the Complainant to drop the knife, the SO discharged the less lethal weapon. The SO discharged his firearm a second time, and several police officers pursued the Complainant on foot and out of camera view.
At 10:04 p.m., it was reported the Complainant was in police custody and the knife had been recovered. The ambulance was moved to the rear of the building.
The Complainant was recorded saying, at 10:07 p.m., “I want to die.” At 10:09 p.m., the Complainant said, “Please, I have to die. I want to die.”
WO #2’s vehicle was the closest police vehicle to capture the Complainant’s interaction with members of the TPS. WO #2 arrived on scene at 9:58 p.m. and as he exited his vehicle, he unholstered his CEW.
At least five police officers were standing in a row facing the Complainant, who was gesturing with a knife in his right hand. WO #2’s microphone was not activated.
As the Complainant walked backward while gesturing with a knife in his right hand, the row of police officers moved forward. Three police officers were positioned on the ramp at the south side of the building.
At 10:03 p.m., the Complainant was struck by the SO’s less lethal shotgun, and he ran toward the back of the building. The Complainant was struck a second time by a less lethal projectile, and he continued to run, with police officers pursuing him on foot.
At 10:16 p.m., WO #2 returned to his police vehicle. He was holding a CEW that had been deployed.
Materials Obtained from Police Service Upon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from TPS between December 29, 2020 and March 11, 2021:
- CAD Report;
- ICCS recordings from ten police vehicles;
- Notes – the SO;
- Notes – WO #2; and
- Notes – WO #1.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU received the following record from a non-police source on January 28, 2021:
- Incident Report from the Willowdale Welcome Centre.
Paramedics were the first to arrive, followed shortly by multiple police officers starting at about 9:55 p.m. Among the officers, armed with a less lethal sock bag rifle, was the SO. The officers approached the Complainant on foot at the south side of the building and attempted to establish a line of communication. They asked the Complainant what was wrong, explained that they were there to help, and encouraged him to put the knife away.
The Complainant refused all of the officers’ overtures, and repeatedly yelled at them that he wanted to die and them to shoot him. He began to walk backwards and was followed at a distance by the officers, including the SO. At about 10:03 p.m., with the officer positioned in the vicinity of an accessibility ramp at the south side of the building, the SO fired his less lethal shotgun once at the Complainant. The bean bag struck the Complainant in the stomach and caused him to double-over but only momentarily. Within seconds, the SO shot the Complainant again time as the Complainant, knife still in hand, ran westward.
Officers ran after the Complainant, including WO #1, armed with a CEW. The Complainant stopped his flight, turned to face WO #1 and lurched forward at the officer. WO #1 discharged his CEW. The probes struck the Complainant, who reacted in pain and dropped the knife before resuming his flight away from the officers.
With the knife no longer in his possession, officers quickly caught up with the Complainant and arrested him without further incident.
The only injury the Complainant is reported to have suffered was bruising to his stomach.
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
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. The officers who responded to the scene were within their rights in attempting to take the Complainant into custody. The Complainant had brandished a knife in the presence of residents of the shelter. He was also threatening to do himself harm and acting irrationally. In the circumstances, the Complainant was subject to apprehension under section 17 of the Mental Health Act and for possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes under the Criminal Code.
Thereafter, I am satisfied that the SO used reasonable force in discharging his less lethal rifle at the Complainant. The knife the Complainant was holding, though a pocket knife, was capable of inflicting death or grievous bodily harm at close range and the officers were justified in attempting to dispossess the Complainant of the weapon from a distance. The SO did just that when, from a range of about nine metres, he fired his sock gun twice at the Complainant. Though both rounds met their mark, the Complainant’s centre mass, they failed to release the knife from the Complainant’s grasp. It was only with the deployment of a CEW moments later that the knife finally came free and the Complainant was placed under arrest. Be that as it may, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the SO’s resort to his firearm was a disproportionate response to the exigencies at hand.
In the result, as I am satisfied for the foregoing reasons that the SO conducted himself lawfully throughout his engagement with the Complainant, there is no basis to proceed with charges in this case against the officer and the file is closed.
Date: March 22, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) The Complainant was homeless, and despite efforts, SIU investigators were unsuccessful in contacting him for an interview. [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.