SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OCD-005
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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 death of a 25-year-old man (the “Complainant”) during an interaction with the police.
Notification of the SIUOn January 2, 2021, at 1:35 p.m., the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) reported the following:
At about 12:14 p.m., members of the OPS responded to the Lord Elgin Hotel (100 Elgin Street, Ottawa) in relation to an intoxicated man in front of the hotel. Upon arrival, they located the man and, after speaking with him, he agreed to be transported to the Shepherds of Good Hope shelter, located at 380 Murray Street [now known to be 256 King Edward Avenue], Ottawa. The man was not handcuffed and voluntarily got into the police vehicle. The police officers arrived at the shelter at about 12:26 p.m. with the man and noticed he became unresponsive but was still breathing. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was contacted, attended, and took over care of the man. He was placed into the ambulance and subsequently went vital signs absent (VSA). At 1:17 p.m., the man was pronounced deceased in the rear of the ambulance.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 01/02/2021 at 2:08 p.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 01/02/2021 at 2:15 p.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1
Number of SIU Collision Reconstructionists assigned: 0
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):25-year-old male, deceased
Civilian Witnesses (CW)CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed
CW #6 Not interviewed (On Leave)
The civilian witnesses were interviewed between January 5, 2021 and February 3, 2021.
Subject Officials (SO)SO #1 Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
SO #2 Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
The subject officials were interviewed on February 1, 2021.
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed between January 12 and 13, 2021.
The Scene The incident occurred in front of the Shepherds of Good Hope, located at 256 King Edward Avenue, Ottawa. The Complainant was seated in the rear seat of an OPS police vehicle when he went unconscious and subsequently became VSA. The Complainant was pronounced deceased in the rear of an ambulance.
Forensic Evidence The results of submissions to the Centre of Forensic Sciences for toxicology, biochemistry and histology remain pending at the time of this report.
911 Telephone Communication
- At 12:13:26 p.m., a woman, who identified herself only by her first name,  contacted the OPS and reported a man [now known to be the Complainant] on the street in front of the Lord Elgin Hotel, on Elgin Street; and
- The Complainant had dark brown hair and wore a beige-coloured coat. He struggled to get up from the ground and appeared to be unable to get back onto his feet.
OPS Radio CommunicationsThe following is a summary of the communications that occurred between the OPS dispatch group and the OPS officers involved in this investigation that occurred on January 2, 2021.
- At 12:20:51 p.m., SO #1 and SO #2, who were at the Lord Elgin Hotel dealing with a report of an intoxicated male [now known to be the Complainant], advised dispatch that the situation was good.
- At 12:33:28 p.m., SO #1 and SO #2 advised that they were going to transport the intoxicated male to the Shepherds of Good Hope Mission.
- At 12:36:01 p.m., SO #1 and SO #2 requested the attendance of EMS at 256 King Edward Avenue. The intoxicated man was unresponsive.
- Shortly after, several radio transmissions occurred. The exact times were not communicated. The radio transmissions were as follows:
WO #2 asked to be put at the scene.
An officer advised that he was at the scene.An officer asked to be placed on the call at the Shepherds of Good Hope.An officer advised that he was taping off the scene and SO #2’s patrol vehicle would be included in the scene.
- At 12:54:28 p.m., an officer advised that he was at the scene.
An officer advised that the Duty Inspector had been notified.Another officer asked if he could assist. He was advised that he was not required. He was at the original scene in front of the Lord Elgin.WO #2 advised this officer that SO #2 would be returning to the original scene.
Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) from a Residence on King Edward AvenueThe following is a summary of surveillance video from a residence on King Edward Avenue in Ottawa. It covers the period from 10:32:56 to 10:57:00 a.m. on January 2, 2021.
- At 10:32:56 a.m., a marked OPS vehicle arrived at the front entrance of The Shepherds of Good Hope on King Edward Avenue. OPS officers exited the patrol vehicle and tended to someone in the rear of the police vehicle;
- The camera settings did not provide a close view of the area where the OPS police vehicle parked;
- At 10:35:50 a.m., a second OPS vehicle arrived and parked behind the first OPS patrol vehicle;
- At 10:41:05 a.m., an ambulance arrived and parked in front of the OPS vehicles. The ambulance was out of view of the security camera;
- At 10:42:50 a.m., paramedics arrived and attended to someone in the rear of the patrol vehicle;
- At 10:43:38 a.m., paramedics, assisted by OPS officers, removed an individual from the rear of the police vehicle and then went out of view of the camera;
- At 10:54:59 a.m., an EMS supervisor arrived on scene and parked out of view of the camera;
- At 10:55:10 a.m., a fire truck exited the scene; and
- At 10:57:00 a.m., the video from the security camera stopped.
CCTV from a Business on Elgin StreetVideo footage was obtained from four video cameras. The content was dated January 2, 2021. Each camera had a different perspective.
This video was 22 minutes and 32 seconds long.
- At 12:06:31 p.m., the video is activated.
- At 12:07:19 p.m., the Complainant staggered northbound on the west sidewalk, heading towards the Lord Elgin Hotel.
- At 12:07:19 p.m., the Complainant fell to his knees and started to crawl north on the sidewalk.
- At 12:07:39 p.m., the Complainant attempted to stand but fell to the ground again and laid on his back.
- At 12:08:20 p.m., a woman walked northbound on Elgin Street, stopped and appeared to speak with the Complainant before she walked away.
- At 12:08:25 p.m., the Complainant continued to crawl north on the sidewalk on his hands and knees. The Complainant made several attempts to get up off the sidewalk and fell back onto the ground.
- At 12:13:01 p.m., the Complainant stood up off the ground and immediately fell back to the ground.
- At 12:15:59 p.m., an unknown person walking southbound on the sidewalk stopped and spoke with the Complainant who was sitting up but still on the sidewalk.
- At 12:19:44 p.m., SO #2 and SO #1 appeared in the camera and walked south on the street towards the Complainant.
- At 12:20:13 p.m., SO #1 and SO #2 assisted the Complainant off the ground.
- At 12:20:21 p.m., the Complainant and both police officers walked north out of the camera view. The Complainant was not handcuffed but was assisted with walking.
- At 12:27:48 p.m., an OPS vehicle, believed to be operated by SO #1 and SO #2, entered the camera view and travelled south on Elgin Street, before it travelled east on Laurier Avenue West.
- At 12:29:01 p.m., the video stopped.
- At 12:18:45 p.m., the video started.
- At 12:19:01 p.m., an OPS vehicle arrived on scene directly in front of camera. SO #1 exited the passenger side of the police vehicle. SO #2 drove the police vehicle. Both police officers walked south on the sidewalk out of camera view.
- At 12:20:32 p.m., SO #1 and SO #2 came back into camera view walking north towards the police vehicle. SO #1 was on the left side of the Complainant and SO #2 on the right. Both police officers appeared to assist the Complainant to the police vehicle. The Complainant was not handcuffed. The right rear door of the police vehicle was opened, and the Complainant sat inside. WO #3 arrived and stopped behind the first police vehicle the Complainant had entered. SO #2 closed the back door with the Complainant inside.
- At 12:27:40 p.m., the Complainant left with the police officers. The OPS vehicle travelled south on Elgin and out of view.
- At 12:29:05 p.m., WO #3 left the scene with his OPS vehicle and travelled south on Elgin Street.
- At 12:29:53 p.m., the video stopped.
This camera did not capture any material event other than was previously reported above.
- At 12:06:59 p.m., the camera started.
- At 12:18:59 p.m., SO #1 and SO #2 arrived on scene.
- At 12:21:20 p.m., the Complainant entered the back of the OPS vehicle and was seen moving inside the back of the police vehicle.
- At 12:27:47 p.m., the OPS vehicle left with the Complainant still moving inside. The police vehicle travelled south on Elgin Street out of camera view.
- At 12:29:14 p.m., WO #3 left with his OPS vehicle.
- At 12:29:34 p.m., the video stopped.
Materials Obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPS:
- Narrative-SO #2;
- Narrative-SO #1;
- Notes-SO #2;
- Notes-SO #1;
- Computer-assisted Dispatch;
- IDENT Activity Vehicle Release;
- IDENT Body and Scene Photographs;
- IDENT Exhibit Photographs;
- IDENT Fingerprint ID;
- IDENT Forensic Identification Service Activity (x2);
- IDENT Scene, Exhibit and Body Examination;
- Witness Information List;
- OPS Radio and 911 Communications; and
- RMS Person Hardcopy – the Complainant.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the following other sources:
- CCTV – from a Residence on King Edward Avenue;
- CCTV – from a Business on Elgin Street;
- Ontario Forensic Pathology Service (OFPS) Preliminary Autopsy Findings; and
- • OFPS Preliminary Police Report.
SO #1 and SO #2 were the first on the scene, arriving in their cruiser within minutes of the 911 call. The Complainant was lying on the sidewalk, seemingly asleep, his head resting on a snowbank. The weather was cold. The officers approached the Complainant on foot and were able to rouse him. They asked if he was okay and the Complainant mumbled something in response. It appeared that he was heavily intoxicated. Concerned for his ability to take care of himself, SO #1 and SO #2 assisted in lifting the Complainant to his feet, after which they escorted him a short distance to their cruiser and sat him in the rear seat.
The officers considered their options and decided to take the Complainant to the Shepherds of Good Hope shelter. The shelter had a bed available for the Complainant and also a nurse on staff who could monitor his condition. While en route to the shelter, the Complainant spoke intermittently between bouts of sleep. He sat upright throughout the short trip.
Arriving at the shelter on King Edward Avenue at about 12:34 p.m., SO #1 exited the cruiser, and parked in front of the facility, to speak with staff. Returning moments later with personnel from the Shepherds of Good Hope, and joined by SO #2 at the rear passenger side of the cruiser, the officers informed the Complainant of the plan to house him at the shelter. The Complainant’s eyes were closed and the officers were unable to provoke a response from him. Though he was breathing and still had a pulse, SO #1 became concerned with the Complainant’s condition and an ambulance was called. The time was 12:36 p.m.
Paramedics responded quickly and were at the scene at about 12:43 p.m. The Complainant was vital signs absent by the time of their arrival. With the assistance of SO #1 and SO #2, the Complainant was lifted onto a stretcher and taken into the ambulance where CPR and advanced life-saving measures were administered.
Despite the resuscitative efforts of the paramedics and SO #1, who assisted with chest compressions, the Complainant could not be saved. While still in the ambulance in front of the shelter, the Complainant was pronounced deceased at 1:17 p.m.
Cause of DeathAt the time of this report, the cause of the Complainant’s death remains pending.
Section 219 and 220 Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing death
(a) in doing anything, or(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
(a) where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.
Section 215, Criminal Code - Failure to Provide Necessaries
(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.
(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.
Analysis and Director's Decision
The offences that arise for consideration are failure to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing death contrary to sections 215 and 220 of the Criminal Code, respectively. The former is premised, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. The latter is more serious offence and is reserved for conduct that exhibits a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of others. It is not made out unless the impugned conduct is both a marked and substantial departure from a reasonable level of care. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was a want of care on the part of one or both of SO #1 and SO #2 in the manner in which they dealt with the Complainant that caused or contributed to his death and/or was sufficiently egregious to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.
The evidence establishes that SO #1 and SO #2 were at all times in the discharge of their duties, namely, their foremost duty to protect and preserve life, throughout their engagement with the Complainant. They were right to be concerned for his health and safety. He was lying on the ground with wet pants in cold weather and without his faculties about him; they were duty bound, in the circumstances, to help him. As attested by an independent civilian eyewitness in the area, SO #1 and SO #2 treated the Complainant with care and compassion on Elgin Street as they assisted him to his feet and placed him in the backseat of their cruiser where he would remain warm while the officers considered their next steps. The course of action they decided upon – to take him to the Shepherds of Good Hope shelter – was a reasonable one. The Complainant was manifestly in need of assistance and the facility had a bed available and a program for housing intoxicated persons with nursing services to assist with monitoring the Complainant. Finally, there is nothing to suggest that either officer was derelict in their care of the Complainant in the 20-25 minutes that he was in their custody. The Complainant, though incoherent, was audible at times throughout the trip and able to remain in a seated position. And, as soon as it appeared that the Complainant, though breathing and still with a pulse, could not be roused, the officers promptly called for an ambulance, which arrived within minutes. On this record, I am unable to reasonably conclude that either SO #1 or SO #2 transgressed the limits of care in connection with the circumstances surrounding the Complainant’s unfortunate death.
In the final analysis, while the cause of the Complainant’s death remains open pending the results of toxicological analyses, I am satisfied at this time that both SO #1 and SO #2 comported themselves lawfully at all times. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges at this time, and the file is closed.
Date: April 12, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) On January 6, 2021, a woman, identifying herself by the same first name, contacted the SIU phone attendant line indicating she had information relevant to this investigation. An SIU investigator called the woman at the telephone number she left and left a message requesting a call back. To this date, the woman has not called back. [Back to text]
- 2) The times were not synchronized with actual time. [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.