SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OCD-090
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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 53-year-old woman (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn March 19, 2021, at 6:28 p.m., the Greater Sudbury Police Service (GSPS) notified the SIU of the death of a woman [now known to be the Complainant]. According to the GSPS, on March 19, 2021, a passerby reported to the GSPS that the Complainant was on the railing of the Paris Street bridge [now known to be The Bridge of Nations in Sudbury].
By or about 5:10 p.m., at least 15 police officers [now known to have included Subject Official (SO) #1 and SO #2] responded and began to negotiate with the Complainant. At some point, the Complainant went to the outside of the railing and held on with one arm. The Complainant eventually slipped or fell to the railway tracks below; a descent of approximately 50 feet. The Complainant died as a result of her injuries.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 03/19/2021 at 6:47 p.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 03/20/2021 at 12:05 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2
Interviews of witness officials and civilian witnesses were protracted due to the coronavirus 19 (COVID-19) pandemic and ensuing employment/availability protocols during this investigation.
WO #2 was not interviewed. A review of WO #2’s notes indicated that WO #2 had no information to advance the investigation that was not already known from the information obtained from civilian and police witnesses, and from civilian and police data, including closed-circuit television (CCTV) and cellular telephone data obtained during the investigation.
SIU investigators interviewed civilian and police witnesses, canvassed for additional witnesses and searched for CCTV and cellular telephone data in the area where the incident occurred, and from witnesses and police officials. SIU forensic investigators made digital photographs and measurements relevant to the scene, and collected exhibits in the area of the scene.
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):53-year-old female, deceased
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed
CW #6 Interviewed
CW #7 Interviewed
CW #8 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed between March 20, 2021, and March 31, 2021.
Subject OfficialsSO #1 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
SO #2 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
Witness OfficialsWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
WO #7 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed on March 21, 2021.
The Scene The incident occurred at the west side of the vehicle and pedestrian overpass in Sudbury known as The Bridge of Nations that forms part of Paris Street having a north/south bearing traversing over Canadian Pacific/Canadian National Railways tracks and lands in Sudbury. Paris Street/The Bridge of Nations, in the area where the incident occurred, is a four-laned roadway with a centre median.
The scene on the bridge had been properly secured by the GSPS and was being guarded by police officers with the GSPS. The bridge was decorated with flags of many nations.
Along the west side of the bridge near The Netherlands’ flag was an area that had been secured by yellow tape. Within this area were a bag containing personal effects and blankets.
Figure 1 - Personal effects and blankets located on the west side of the Bridge of Nations.
On the railing, that consisted of galvanized metal, were digital impressions that had discoloured the surface. It appeared that the vertical tubing forming part of the railing had been grasped by someone on the outer aspect of the bridge. Visual examination of the disturbance revealed that the metal tubing was oxidized to a point where enhancement by fingerprint powders would be unsuccessful.
Figure 2 - The vertical metal tubing on the bridge's railing.
The overall railing height was measured and found to be 1.4 metres [4.5 feet]. The distance from top of the railing to the point of impact in rail yard down below was measured and found to be 11.9 metres [39 feet].
Forensic investigators collected the Complainant’s belongings and blankets, and attended the area below the bridge, where the scene had also been secured by GSPS officers, and collected additional personal items apparently belonging to the Complainant.
Further forensic examination of the bridge in daylight after reviewing CCTV data obtained from the GSPS and civilian cellular telephone data recorded during the incident, indicated that the Complainant had been standing on a formed edge on the outer aspect of the bridge while holding onto the railing. The formed edge and The Netherlands’ flagpole mount on which the Complainant had been standing are depicted in the forensic photography. The formed edge was a continuous profile that extended the entire length of the bridge from end to end. The profile on the west side near the north end of the bridge close to Van Horne Street was examined and would be best described as a beveled edge measured and found to be 2 cm on its horizontal plane, and 3 cm on the 45° downward plane.
Figure 3 - Aerial view showing the flagpole mount and bevelled edge of the bridge.
Figure 4 - Closeup of the bevelled edge of the bridge.
Physical Evidence The following items of significance were collected:
• Grey track pants;
• Brown winter coat;
• Blue jeans;
• Pink jersey;
• Black toque and red mittens;
• Maroon pants;
• Black jersey;
• Grey shirt;
• Two white hooded sweaters;
• Running shoes;
• 20 cents;
• Two cigarette lighters; and
• Tylenol tablets.
The significance of these items related to the layers of clothing worn by the Complainant in the context of her homelessness and the weather conditions in Sudbury, in March 2021.
Forensic Evidence Pathology and toxicology specimens were collected during the postmortem examination of the Complainant and submitted to the Centre of Forensic Sciences for forensic analyses. At the time of this report, the results of those analyses remained unknown to the SIU.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence 
GSPS 911 and Communications Audio RecordingsThe following are summaries of telephone and radio communications relevant to the incident.
At 5:08:17 p.m., CW #3 called 911 and reported a man [now known to be the Complainant] sitting on the bridge on the top of the railing at the south end of the bridge. The Complainant was reported to have one leg on each side of the railing.
At 5:09.28 p.m., a woman called the police and reported a homeless man [now known to be the Complainant] sitting on the railing of the bridge. Over the ensuing three minutes, GSPS received four more 911 calls from two more men and two more women reporting on the Complainant’s location and behaviour on the bridge.
At 5:12:38 p.m., the GSPS called the Greater Sudbury Fire Services (GSFS) advising of a person straddling the railing of the bridge and requesting them to attend.
At 5:14:04 p.m., a woman called the GSPS advising that there was “a man” [now known to be the Complainant] straddling the railing of the bridge and that police officers were with the Complainant.
At 5:14:09 p.m., SO #1 was called and advised to attend the bridge regarding a person straddling the railing.
At 5:14:39 p.m., the GSPS contacted the Canadian Pacific Railway Police to get trains stopped under the bridge.
At 5:43:47 p.m., the GSPS contacted EMS (Emergency Medical Services) advising that the Complainant had jumped.
At 5:12:35 p.m., WO #5 communicated that he had made verbal contact with the Complainant and was told to stay away. WO #5 requested more police officers to shut the bridge down.
At 5:13:57 p.m., WO #5 advised that the Complainant would jump if they got closer. WO #5 advised that the Complainant was all the way over the bridge railing.
At 5:17:23 p.m., a police officer’s voice on the radio was heard instructing all police vehicles attending to refrain from using their emergency lights and that WO #5 was making progress with the Complainant.
At 5:18:16 p.m., WO #5 advised that the Complainant had said that if she saw the fire department, she would jump.
At 5:21:03 p.m., WO #5 told the communications dispatcher SO #1 was negotiating with the Complainant and would be off the air.
At 5:39:06 p.m., a police officer transmitted that SO #2 was approaching the Complainant.
At 5:43:41 p.m., SO #2 advised that the Complainant fell.
GSPS CCTV DataThe data was of limited probative value as the camera’s focal range was too remote to depict with clarity the interaction of police officers with the Complainant.
Body Worn Camera (BWC) Video Footage – SO #2The video was one minute and forty-three seconds in duration. There were no time stamps on the video.
The video recording began with a police officer in tactical clothing walking on the bridge. A faint woman’s voice [now known to be from the Complainant] could be heard barely audible, saying, “Officer I can’t take it.” A man’s voice was heard saying, “We will take some steps back for you [the Complainant], OK, just a couple here.” A man’s voice was heard saying, “Just keep her chatting that’s all we can do.” Depicted in the video was a green bag with a blanket on top on the sidewalk of the bridge. The Complainant was seen at the outer aspect of the railing holding onto the spindles of the railing. A man’s voice was heard saying, “No sudden movements, eh.” A man’s voice was then heard saying, “I don’t like her hanging like that it’s going to get cold.” A man’s voice said, “[The Complainant], how you doing there?” The Complainant replied, “I don’t know.” A man’s voice asked, “Is there anything we can do for you?” The Complainant responded, “No, officer we’re good.” A male voice said, “Just want to help you that’s all, you know, want to give you space.” A comment from the Complainant was indiscernible. A man’s voice said, “Oh no, [the Complainant].” The Complainant’s ensuing comment was indiscernible. A man’s voice said, “Keep talking to me,” and with that, the Complainant let go of the railing. A man’s voice asked, “Did she fall?” and another man’s voice was heard responding, “Ya,” and the video camera moved to the bridge railing. A man’s voice said, “Female fell.” The video depicted three police officers standing near a marked police cruiser and a man saying, “Advise EMS, better get down there.” The video ended depicting tactical police officers at the bridge railing looking into the rail yard.
Video from CW #5The salient video depicted the Complainant on the outer aspect of the bridge holding onto two vertical railing spindles for one minute and twenty-five seconds when she lost her hold and fell. No police officers were depicted near the Complainant while she was hanging onto the spindles.
The other two videos depicted emergency services personnel tending to the Complainant, and the view was obstructed by a stationary train.
Photographs from CW #6The photographs depicted the Complainant on the outer aspect of the bridge holding onto the railing with her feet on or against the narrow baseplate of The Netherlands’ flagpole. No police officers were depicted near the Complainant while she was hanging onto the railing.
Video and Photographs from CW #4The eight photographs, of which two were duplicates, and three videos from CW #4 depicted the Complainant on the outer aspect of the bridge hanging onto the vertical spindles and, for a time, hanging onto one spindle with her left leg extended toward the base of The Netherlands’ flagpole while her right foot remained on the narrow ledge.
The first video, four-seconds in duration, depicted the Complainant in the position described above in reference to the duplicate photographs, albeit with some subtle swinging motion.
The second video, 15 seconds in duration, depicted the Complainant still on the outer aspect of the bridge, holding onto two vertical spindles with both feet on the narrow ledge.
The third video, 28 seconds in duration and a continuation of the prior video, depicted the Complainant still holding onto the vertical spindles with both feet on the narrow ledge. At 18 seconds into this video, CW #4 panned north and away from the Complainant, recording the presence of police vehicles stationary on the bridge in the southbound lanes. When CW #4 panned back south toward the Complainant, the Complainant was absent. No police officers were depicted near the Complainant while she was hanging onto the spindles.
Materials Obtained from Police Service The SIU obtained the following records from the GSPS on March 30, 2021:
• 911 and communications audio recordings;
• CCTV data;
• 2020 - Crisis Negotiator (CN) Course Training Accreditation;
• CN Course Certificates - 2017 – SO #1 and SO #2;
• CN Refresher Certificate - 2020 – SO #1 and SO #2;
• Disclosure Memo from GSPS;
• Event Details Report;
• Fingerprint and Fingerprint serial number information - the Complainant;
• GSPS Crime Scene Control Log;
• GSPS History - the Complainant;
• Homicide/Sudden Death Report;
• Police response to Emotionally Disturbed Person;
• SO #1 and SO #2 – CN course data;
• SO #1 and SO #2 - training records;
• List of Witnesses;
• Notes of WOs;
• Policy - Crisis Negotiation;
• Policy - Hostage Rescue - Barricaded Persons;
• Scene photographs;
• SIU Disclosure_ Table of Contents;
• Supplementary reports (x2); and
• Body Worn Camera (BWC) Video Footage – SO #2;
At about 5:10 p.m. of March 19, 2021, multiple 911 calls were received by the GSPS from citizens concerned about the safety of a person sitting on the railing of the Bridge of Nations in Sudbury. Officers were dispatched to the scene.
The Complainant was the person on the bridge. Homeless and despondent with living on the streets, the Complainant was contemplating taking her life by jumping from the bridge.
WO #3 and WO #5 were the first officers to arrive on the bridge at 5:13 p.m. At about the same time, the Complainant climbed completely over the railing onto the narrow outer ledge by the flagpole of The Netherlands on the western side of the bridge. The officers parked their cruisers a distance from the Complainant, exited, and slowly approached her location. They stopped when the Complainant warned that she would jump if they got any closer. From a distance of about three to four metres, WO #5 took the lead in speaking with the Complainant. The officer indicated they were there to help her and encouraged her to return to safety. The Complainant asked to be left alone. Within minutes of his arrival, WO #5 asked for the assistance of trained crisis negotiators.
At about 5:20 p.m., SO #1 arrived on scene followed shortly by SO #2, both trained negotiators with the GSPS Tactical Unit. SO #1 spoke with the Complainant, asking her about any family and friends they could contact. The Complainant was not receptive to any of the officer’s overtures. She variously indicated that she would jump or come back over the railing in her own time if the police left. SO #1 continued to try to keep her engaged in conversation.
At about 5:43 p.m., with SO #1 and SO #2 several metres north of her location, the Complainant fell from the bridge onto the railway grounds below, a drop of about 11 metres.
Paramedics attended to the Complainant and transported her to hospital. She was declared deceased at 6:10 p.m.
Cause of DeathThe pathologist at autopsy was of the preliminary view that the Complainant’s death was attributable to multiple blunt impact trauma.
Section 219, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing death
(a) in doing anything, or(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
Section 220, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm220 Every person who by criminal negligence causes death to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable
(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.
Analysis and Director's Decision
The offence that arises for consideration is criminal negligence causing death contrary to section 220 of the Criminal Code. The offence is reserved for serious cases of neglect that demonstrate a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons. It is not made out, inter alia, unless the impugned conduct amounts to a marked and substantial departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was a want of care on the part of either of the subject officials in the manner in which they dealt with the Complainant and her predicament that caused or contributed to her death and was sufficiently egregious as to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.
The officers who responded to the Bridge of Nations were lawfully placed throughout the incident. A police officer’s foremost obligation is the preservation of life, and they were duty bound to do what they could to prevent harm coming to the Complainant.
I am further satisfied that the involved officers comported themselves with due care and regard for the Complainant’s health and well-being in the half-hour or so that they engaged with her on the bridge. They did what they could, for example, to keep her calm, removing as much of the police presence as possible (personnel and cars) and directing the fire department to stand-by when the Complainant made it clear she would jump if they attended. Though the Complainant had indicated she might climb back over the railing if they left, the officers were not at liberty to completely vacate the area given she had also said she was intent on jumping. Nor were they necessarily in a position to take a more proactive posture by, for example, rushing in to grab hold of her; that risked the Complainant jumping from the bridge, particularly as she had warned them to keep their distance. In the circumstances, I am unable to find fault with the course that was adopted, namely, the use of trained negotiators to attempt to encourage the Complainant back to safety from a distance. In the final analysis, that the officers could not prevent the Complainant from falling – whether intentionally or accidentally – was not from any want of reasonable efforts on their part.
For the foregoing reasons, there are no grounds to believe that the involved officers, including SO #1 and SO #2, transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal
law. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.
Date: July 16, 2021
Electronically approved by
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.