SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-PCI-013


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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 24-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered during an interaction with the police.

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On January 9, 2021, at 4:12 a.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant.

The OPP advised that, at 12:55 a.m., OPP officers responded to an unwanted guest who was highly intoxicated at a residence near Tillson Avenue and Frances Street in Tillsonburg. Witness Official (WO) #1 and the Subject Official (SO), and the Service Employee Witness (SEW), arrived to find the Complainant lying on the sidewalk in front of the residence.

When police officers attempted to assist the Complainant to his feet, he struggled and fled. The Complainant ran into a tree and knocked himself to the ground. The Complainant was arrested and continued to fight with the police officers. This behaviour continued to the police cruiser, where he attempted to kick out the windows of the police cruiser.

While at the police cruiser, WO #2 and WO #3 arrived to assist. The Complainant was transported to the detachment, where it was noticed that he had a bump on his head and was limping.

The Complainant was taken to the Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital (TDMH) where he was diagnosed with a spiral fracture of the left ankle. He had been released back into OPP custody with an air cast.

The Complainant was deaf and needed a sign language interpreter to communicate.

The Team

Date and time team dispatched: 01/11/2021 at 9:29 a.m.

Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 01/13/2021 at 4:00 p.m.

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 0

Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):

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

The Complainant was interviewed on January 21, 2021.

Civilian Witnesses (CW)

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed

The civilian witnesses were interviewed on January 26, 2021.

Subject Official

SO Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject official’s legal right.

The subject official was interviewed on March 12, 2021.

Witness Officials

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed

The witness officials were interviewed between January 25, 2021 and February 4, 2021.

Service Employee Witness

SEW Interviewed

The service employee witness was interviewed on January 22, 2021.

Investigative Delay

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Complainant’s disability, there were challenges in setting up an initial in-person interview with the Complainant. Two sign language interpreters were needed to facilitate the interview.

Additionally, the SO initially declined to speak with the SIU, later agreeing to an interview. The interview was delayed until March 12, 2021, in light of the SO’s and his counsel’s schedules.


The Scene

The scene was located in front of a house near CW #1’s residence in the area of Tillson Avenue and Frances Street, Tillsonburg.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence [1]

911 / Communication Recordings Summary

The SIU received the 911 and communication recordings from the OPP on January 19, 2021.

On January 9, 2021, CW #1 called 911 and advised the dispatcher she wanted the Complainant removed from her property, further indicating that the Complainant was deaf. CW #1 said that the Complainant was intoxicated and that when she had asked him to leave, the Complainant pushed her down the stairs. The Complainant was lying on the sidewalk and he could be heard in the background of the audio. CW#1 advised that the Complainant was freaking out and drunk.

A man’s voice [now known to be possibly WO #1] advised that he had arrived at the address and that the Complainant was lying on the sidewalk. Soon after, it was reported that the Complainant had taken off on foot and run into a tree, but that EMS was not required. An officer [possibly the SO] advised that the Complainant was kicking and spitting at them.

Another man’s voice [possibly WO #2] advised that the Complainant was in the back of the cruiser, continuing to kick and spit. WO #1 advised that he would be transporting the Complainant to the detachment.

It was reported that the Complainant was going to be transported to TDMH because the Complainant was complaining of his leg and there was a “goose egg” on his forehead.

WO #3 was asked by a police officer if she could return to the scene to locate the Complainant’s hearing aid.

There were other communication recordings between WO #3 and the dispatcher inquiring if there were any members who knew sign language and could attend TDMH to communicate with the Complainant.

OPP Tillsonburg Detachment Cell Area Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) Footage

On request of SIU investigators, OPP provided the CCTV footage for the cell block of the OPP Oxford-Tillsonburg Detachment to the SIU on January 19, 2021. The video coverage did not include audio recording. The following is a summary of the OPP CCTV footage.

At 1:32 a.m., the OPP police cruiser driven by WO #1 pulled into the cell block garage. The Complainant exited the rear passenger door with the assistance of two uniform OPP police officers. The Complainant was limping and fell to the floor of the garage. The Complainant was assisted/carried into the cell booking area. The Complainant was wearing a spit mask over his head. An OPP sergeant was trying to communicate with the Complainant. The sergeant removed his protective mask to allow the Complainant to read his lips. The Complainant was lying on the floor in front of the booking desk. He was pointing to his left leg. The Complainant was moved to a chair and his left leg/ankle area was examined by the sergeant.

At 1:37 a.m., the Complainant was carried out of the booking area and placed in the rear of the police cruiser.

At 1:41 a.m., the police cruiser left the cell block garage.

At 3:10 a.m., the OPP cruiser arrived in the cell block garage. The Complainant had a cast on his left ankle. He was assisted into the booking area. He was not handcuffed. He sat on a chair in the booking area. A female OPP police officer pointed to papers attached to the wall. He was given his eyeglasses. The Complainant read the papers and gave the police officer a “thumbs up” on completion.

At 3:20 a.m., the Complainant was placed in holding cell 1. The cell was equipped with a bed and toilet/sink unit. He was given a mattress and blanket. He had communications with a female OPP officer at the cell. Both wrote on a paper which was passed back and forth.

At 3:28 a.m., the Complainant laid down and rested for the night.

At 8:06 a.m., the Complainant got up from the bed and folded the blankets. He was escorted from the cell to the booking desk area.

At 8:11 a.m., at the booking desk, the Complainant signed paperwork provided to him by the police officers.

At 8:12 a.m., the Complainant got into the rear of an OPP police cruiser and was driven away by a female police officer.

Materials Obtained from Police Service

Upon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from the OPP between January 15 and 28, 2021:
  • Notes-the SEW;
  • Notes-WO #3;
  • Notes-WO #1;
  • Notes-WO #2;
  • Arrest Report;
  • Intergraph Computer-assisted Dispatch;
  • 911 and Communication Recordings;
  • Tillsonburg Detachment Cell Area CCTV;
  • OPP Involved Persons; and
  • OPP Media Release.

Materials Obtained from Other Sources

The SIU received the following record from other sources on January 25, 2021:
  • Medical record from TMDH.

Incident Narrative

The following scenario emerges on the weight of the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with the Complainant, the SO, and several police and civilian witnesses. In the early morning hours of January 9, 2021, officers were called to an address near Tillson Avenue and Frances Street, Tillsonburg. A resident of the home, CW #1, had invited the Complainant over for a visit the evening prior. The Complainant had consumed alcohol to excess and was causing a disturbance. He had also pushed CW #1 down a small flight of stairs that led from a porch to the home’s driveway. CW #1 wanted the Complainant removed from the property.

The SO, together with WO #1 and WO #3, and the SEW, were dispatched to the address. The Complainant was found lying on the front yard of the property on or near the sidewalk. He was crying and smashing his fists on the ground. WO #1, aware that the Complainant was deaf, tapped him on the back to get his attention. The Complainant reacted by jumping to his feet and running away from the officers.

WO #1 and the SO, and the SEW, gave chase and watched as the Complainant ran into a tree on the front lot of a house , some 40 metres from where he had started his flight. The impact sent the Complainant to the ground. The SO and the SEW rolled the Complainant over, after which he made it to his feet and started wildly swinging his arms at the officers.

With the assistance of WO #1 and the SEW, the SO forced the Complainant to the ground whereupon he was handcuffed behind the back. While still on the ground and restrained, the Complainant began to spit in the direction of the officers. A spit hood was retrieved by an officer and placed on the Complainant’s head.

Following his arrest, the Complainant was placed in the rear seat of WO #1’s cruiser where he began to kick the interior of the windows.

Upon arrival at the detachment, the Complainant was seen limping and his left ankle was swollen. He was taken to hospital in WO #1’s cruiser and diagnosed with a fractured left ankle.

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 January 9, 2021, the Complainant suffered a serious injury around the time of his arrest by OPP officers in Tillsonburg. Among the arresting officers, the SO was identified as the subject official 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 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. The officers who responded to CW #1’s address had information that the Complainant, inebriated, had caused a disturbance in the home and pushed the 911 caller down several stairs. In the circumstances, they were within their rights in arriving at the home to deal with the situation and investigate a possible assault. Thereafter, when the Complainant fled from the officers and then reacted by swinging at them as they caught up with him on the ground, he was also subject to arrest.

As for the force that was used to take the Complainant into custody, there is no suggestion in the evidence that it was excessive. In essence, the force consisted of a takedown, made necessary, in my view, by the Complainant’s combativeness with the officers. Having been forced to the ground, in a careful and controlled fashion, the officers were able to quickly overcome his resistance and place him in handcuffs. No strikes of any kind were delivered.

It should be noted that there is a distinct possibility raised in the evidence that the Complainant’s injury was incurred before the officers’ arrival, perhaps as he too fell down the same stairs as CW #1. In any event, as I am unable to reasonably conclude that the SO or any of the officers who dealt with the Complainant conducted themselves other than lawfully throughout their encounter, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case. The file is closed.

Date: May 4, 2021

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Special Investigations Unit


  • 1) The following records contain sensitive personal information and are not being released pursuant to section 34(2) of the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019. The material portions of the records are summarized below. [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.