SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-TFP-115
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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 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.
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 by the police at a 42-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn April 10, 2021, at 7:25 a.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) contacted the SIU and reported the following.
At 5:30 a.m., the Complainant, who lived in an apartment complex in the area of Ellesmere Road and Morningside Avenue, went to another apartment on his floor and threatened members of his family with a knife. Members of the TPS responded and the Subject Official (SO) discharged a less-lethal weapon, after which the Complainant was arrested. The Witness Official (WO) was present and assisted in the arrest. The Complainant had no injuries.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 04/10/2021 at 8:21 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 04/10/2021 at 11:05 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):42-year-old male interviewed
The Complainant was interviewed on April 14, 2021.
Civilian Witnesses (CW)CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed on April 14, 2021.
Subject Official SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
The subject official was interviewed on May 14, 2021.
Witness OfficialWO Interviewed
The witness official was interviewed on April 16, 2021.
The Scene The incident took place in the common hallway in front of an apartment located in a building in the area of Ellesmere Road and Morningside Avenue.
Physical Evidence The following items were seized on April 10, 2021 at the location of the scene.
1. Shell Shot Case
2. Soft Projectile
Figure 1 – The SO’s Less Lethal Firearm
Radio and 911 Communications Summary911 Telephone Call
At 5:30:37 a.m., CW #2 called TPS 911 asking that police please come to his apartment and that someone was killing him. CW #2 was in hysterics and sounded out of breath. Further information was provided to the 911 operator that the Complainant had slapped CW #1 and she had fled to CW #2’s apartment with her 11-year-old daughter. The Complainant was now trying to break down the door. t.
The Complainant had opened the door and the door was being held closed by CW #2. The Complainant had a large knife. CW #1 and her daughter went into a bedroom when instructed by the 911 operator. Another young child was also in the bedroom.
At 5:41:53 a.m., voices could be heard shouting [now known to be the SO and WO].
At 5:41:58 a.m., a shot was heard to be fired.
At 5:43:04 a.m., the daughter confirmed that police had arrived, and the call was disconnected.
At 5:31 a.m., a radio call was broadcast for units to respond to CW #2’s apartment regarding a man, CW #2, yelling for help and saying someone was trying to kill him. The WO and SO were assigned to respond.
The dispatcher provided information that a woman, CW #1, and an 11-year-old girl were also in the apartment. CW #1 had been assaulted by her husband, the Complainant. The Complainant was armed with a large knife.
At 5:40 a.m., the WO and SO arrived on scene and entered the apartment complex.
At 5:42 a.m., a ‘sock round’ had been deployed [known to be a less-lethal shotgun deployment] and they had one person in custody [now known to be the Complainant]. The Complainant was handcuffed on the ground. The WO and SO requested the assistance of Emergency Medical Services.
At 9:20 a.m., the radio communications recordings concluded.
Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) Summary – Apartment Complex
- At 4:25 a.m., an adult woman [now known to be CW #1] exited her apartment, and turned to her right. CW #1 was accompanied by two young children. They walked away from their apartment. The video clip ended at 4:26 a.m.
- At 4:36 a.m., the Complainant exited his apartment and appeared to be carrying a small object in his left hand. He turned right from his apartment and walked down the hall. No activity was able to be viewed outside CW #2’s apartment, or the elevators.
- At 5:38 a.m., a uniformed police officer [now known to be the WO] entered the front vestibule of the apartment complex. He was immediately followed by a second uniformed police officer [now known to be the SO].
- The SO carried a less-lethal shotgun. The shotgun had red, or orange on the stock.
- At 5:39 a.m., the SO removed a small multi-tool from his jacket pocket. He manipulated the lock with the tool, and at 5:39 a.m., both officers gained access through the second set of doors.
- The CCTV video footage did not capture the discharge of the less-lethal shotgun or the interaction between the police officers and the Complainant.
The remaining video clips were time stamped after the arrest of the Complainant, and not relevant to this investigation.
In-car Camera System (ICCS) Footage – TPS UnitThe ICCS audio recording did not commence until 5:43 a.m., which was after the initial interaction between the Complainant and members of TPS occurred. The recording was not of any value to the investigation.
Materials Obtained from Police Service Upon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from the TPS between April 10 and 30, 2021:
- Communication Recordings;
- Scene Photos;
- Civilian Witness Statements;
- Computer-assisted Dispatch Event Details Report;
- Less-lethal Licence – the SO;
- Forensic Identification Services Report-Items Seized;
- General Occurrence with Supplementary Reports;
- Notes-the SO;
- Notes-the WO;
- ICCS Recording – TPS Unit;
- General Occurrence-Civilian Entities List; and
- Previous TPS interactions with the Complainant.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU received the following records from other sources:
- CCTV – the Apartment Complex.
The SO and WO arrived at the building and made their way to the floor using the elevator, arriving at about 5:41 a.m. Having agreed a plan of action en route to the scene, the SO was armed with a less-lethal shotgun while the WO had ready his CEW. As the elevator doors opened, the officers immediately saw the Complainant to their right in front of CW #2’s apartment, within metres of their location. He was banging on the apartment door and had a knife in his right hand. The officers repeatedly yelled at the Complainant to drop the knife.
The Complainant turned toward the officers, failed to drop the knife in his right hand as directed, and was struck by a sock round fired from the SO’s shotgun in the lower torso. Though he was not felled by the round, the Complainant took another step before dropping the knife and lowering himself to the floor. The officers moved in and handcuffed the Complainant without further incident.
The Complainant did not sustain any serious injury.
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 required or authorized to do by law. The SO and WO had been advised that the Complainant had assaulted his wife and was trying to enter CW #2’s apartment, where she and her children had fled, armed with a knife. What they observed as the elevator doors opened – an angry the Complainant banging on the door of CW #2’s apartment with a knife – would have only confirmed the information they had been provided and laid bare the gravity of the situation. In the circumstances, there were clear grounds to arrest the Complainant.
I am further satisfied that the force used in effecting the Complainant’s arrest, namely, the discharge by the SO of a single sock round from his less-lethal shotgun, was legally justified. The Complainant had violently assaulted his wife, threatened her, the kids and his brother-in-law, and was actively in the process of trying to break into the apartment where they had sought protection, armed with a knife. On this record, having provided the Complainant a reasonable opportunity to drop the knife, I am unable to fault the SO for attempting to safely neutralize the Complainant at a distance by firing his less-lethal shotgun. Lesser force, such as direct physical engagement, would have placed the officers within arm’s reach of the knife and at risk of grievous bodily injury or death. Nor were withdrawal or continued stand-off realistic options given the prospect of an armed and violent Complainant inflicting serious harm at a moment’s notice to other residents of the floor, as well as the officers.
For the foregoing reasons, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO comported himself other than lawfully throughout his brief engagement with the Complainant. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges against the officer, and the file is closed.
Date: August 4, 2021
Electronically approved by
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.