SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-TFD-161
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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 28-year-old man (the “Complainant”) during an interaction with the police.
Notification of the SIUOn May 22, 2021 at 10:16 p.m., the Toronto Police Service (TPS) notified the SIU of the death of the Complainant.
TPS advised that on May 22, 2021, at 9:03 p.m., TPS police officers attended at 1815 Yonge Street for an emotionally distressed person (EDP) [now determined to be the Complainant]. TPS had limited details. One police officer [now determined to be the Subject Official (SO)] from 53 Division had discharged his firearm at the Complainant. The Complainant was subsequently transported to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SBHSC), where he eventually succumbed to his injuries.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 05/22/2021 at 10:33 p.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 05/22/2021 at 11:40 p.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 3
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):28-year-old male, deceased
Civilian Witnesses (CW)CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed
CW #6 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed between May 25, 2021 and June 30, 2021.
Subject Official SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
The subject official was interviewed on June 3, 2021.
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed between May 23, 2021 and June 9, 2021.
The Scene The scene was located in the third floor hallway of 1815 Yonge Street, Toronto. The location was a multi-story condominium located on the southeast corner of Yonge Street and Merton Street.
On May 23, 2021 at 12:45 a.m., SIU Forensic Investigators arrived on scene and attended the third floor. The third floor hallway in proximity to the Complainant’s unit had been properly secured and guarded by TPS police officers. The doorway to the unit was found ajar. The doorway showed no signs of forced entry. Just inside the doorway on the floor was evidence of conducted energy weapon (CEW) deployment. This evidence included AFIDs and one blast door. The remaining interior of the apartment showed no signs of disarray.
In the hallway outside the unit was a CEW. The CEW showed signs of deployment as one cartridge had been discharged. Further deployment of AFIDs, blast doors and a probe were also found close by. The deployment of these articles continued down the hallway.
A large stain of suspected blood was on the floor midway in the hallway. There was a single cartridge case found on the floor. The entire hallway area was littered with emergency medical services (EMS) medical waste. Past the bloodstain and outside another unit was a kitchen style knife.
At 1:49 a.m., an SIU Forensic Investigator commenced photography of the scene.
At 2:15 a.m., collection of evidence was begun and, at 3:00 a.m., collection of evidence was completed.
Measurements of the scene for a scene drawing were obtained.
Figure 2 – CEW located in the third floor hallway
Figure 3 – The SO’s firearm
TPS Police EquipmentFirearm of the SO
The SO’s firearm was a Glock Model 22 Gen4. One cartridge was removed from the breech of the firearm. An SIU Forensic Investigator seized the firearm and magazine in the firearm, containing 12 cartridges.
An SIU Forensic Investigator photographed the uniform worn by the SO at the time of the incident along with his duty belt.
Ballistic Vest of WO #4
At 4:37 a.m., an SIU Forensic Investigator received the ballistic vest of WO #4. Photography of the vest was completed showing the vest itself and a defect found on the centre back area. The vest was returned to TPS.
Centre of Forensic Sciences (CFS) Submissions The following items were provided to the CFS Firearm and Toolmark Section for consideration and analysis:
Exhibit 3 – cartridge case from scene for comparison;
Exhibit 17 – police firearm used at scene for comparisons and distance determination;
Exhibit 17B – magazine from police firearm for use with police firearm;
Exhibit 17C – 12 cartridges from magazine for use with police firearm; and
Exhibit 19 – white T-shirt [determined to be that of the Complainant] for firearm discharge residue / distance determination.
The tests conducted by CFS and their results had not been received as of the date of this report.
CEW Downloaded DataOn May 23, 2021, three CEWs used during this incident were downloaded. The following is a summary of the data derived from the weapons.
The SO’s CEW - Model X2
• May 22, 2021 – 9:12:13 p.m.  – 5 second trigger pull with cartridge 1 deployed by the SO.
WO #1’s CEW - Model X2
• May 22, 2021 – 9:22:27 p.m. – 4 second trigger pull with cartridge 1 deployed by WO #1.
WO #4’s CEW - Model X2
• May 22, 2021 – 9:13:58 p.m. – 5 second trigger pull with cartridge 1 deployed by WO #4.
Police Communications RecordingsTPS provided recordings of the communications related to the call at 1815 Yonge Street on May 22, 2021. The following is a summary.
At 8:26:05 p.m., CW #3 called 911 and requested to be put through to the ambulance service. CW #3 was transferred to the ambulance call-taker and reported her son [now determined to be the Complainant] had schizophrenia and had hit her. CW #3 provided the address of a third floor unit at 1815 Yonge Street. She told the call-taker she was not in the unit and would meet the paramedics downstairs. CW #3 explained the Complainant had an episode of yelling and screaming, and used his fist to hit her on the left side of her face. The Complainant had been violent on a previous occasion threatening a neighbour with a paring knife.
At 8:29:08 p.m., the police dispatcher advised over the police radio that there were two new calls in 53 Division. One involved an assault at 1815 Yonge Street, in which a woman, CW #3, had called about her son, the Complainant, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and who had hit her. The Complainant had no weapon but had access to kitchen knives.
At 8:41:50 p.m., CW #3 called 911 and requested both police and ambulance as she had called for an ambulance earlier and they were not there yet. She advised the Complainant was now outside. The call-taker advised police and ambulance were attending. CW #3 was waiting outside the condo building.
At 8:50:21 p.m., TPS units [now determined to be the SO, WO #4, WO #1 and WO #3] were dispatched to 1815 Yonge Street regarding an EDP call.
At 8:50:31 p.m., the police dispatcher advised CW #3 was on scene with the Complainant. The Complainant was yelling and screaming, and had punched CW #3. The Complainant refused to leave with his father, CW #4. There were no weapons involved but the Complainant had access to knives in his unit. The Complainant had a history of violence. CW #3 would wait outside the condo building. The ambulance was attending as well.
At 8:52:26 p.m., the police dispatcher asked if there was a sergeant on the air that was “10-4” on the call.
At 8:53:12 p.m., the ambulance service called the police and asked if they were on their way to 1815 Yonge Street as the paramedics were doing a safety assessment.
At 8:55:21 p.m., the police dispatcher advised there was a 28-year-old man with schizophrenia who had struck his mother and attacked his father. The police dispatcher advised the Complainant was cautioned on police records for violence and weapons-related offences. The Complainant did not have weapons. The Complainant had a history of violence, and officers were to exercise caution when dealing with him.
At 9:03:05 p.m., the SO and WO #4 came over the radio to the dispatcher. The dispatcher advised them to standby as they were switching over.
At 9:04:00 p.m., a male’s voice advised that an ambulance was on scene.
At 9:11:45 p.m., the dispatcher asked where the SO and WO #4 were.
At 9:11:56 p.m., the dispatcher asked the SO and WO #4 to go ahead.
At 9:12:03 p.m., the dispatcher told the SO and WO #4 to go ahead. The dispatcher asked if there was any other unit with the SO and WO #4, advising that they had set off their priority.
At 9:12:54 p.m., a male’s voice [believed to be the SO] came over the police radio and said that a man [now determined to be the Complainant] had come at them with a knife and tried to attack his partner [now determined to be WO #4], and that there was a gunshot. The dispatcher asked if there were any injuries.
At 9:13:25 p.m., the dispatcher asked the SO and WO #4 if he had any injuries.
At 9:13:26 p.m., WO #1 and WO #3 advised no other police officers were injured.
At 9:14:34 p.m., a second ambulance was requested.
At 9:15:45 p.m., the dispatcher asked if any unit on scene could advise if a shot was fired.
At 9:16:55 p.m., WO #5 advised one shot was fired in hallway on the third floor. Two ambulances had been requested.
At 9:19:10 p.m., a male’s voice advised of an emergency run for the suspect (the Complainant). An ambulance was requested for a police officer.
At 9:20:04 p.m., WO #5 advised that one police officer was injured. He requested that WO #6 go to the hospital with the suspect.
At 9:27:25 p.m., WO #5 advised that all the police officers were accounted for and he was sorting out witness officers as the investigation would be SIU.
At 9:34:49 p.m., WO #5 advised the SO, WO #4, WO #1 and WO #3 were going to the hospital.
At 9:36:12 p.m., WO #6 was at SBHSC.
At 12:07:34 a.m., the SIU was on scene.
Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) Footage – 1815 Yonge Street - Lobby and ElevatorOn May 26, 2021, the SIU received a memory stick containing CCTV footage from May 22, 2021 of the lobby and elevator area pertaining to the incident. There was no CCTV on the third floor. The CCTV video captured the following.
8:36:36 p.m., a man [believed to be the Complainant] walked towards the elevators.
8:43:35 p.m., paramedics arrived outside of 1815 Yonge Street and were speaking to CW #3 and CW #4.
8:53:10 p.m., three paramedics, CW #3 and CW #4 entered the building and walked towards the elevators.
8:54:20 p.m., CW #3 walked from the elevator area to the lobby.
8:57:00 p.m., police cruisers arrived at 1815 Yonge street.
8:57:58 p.m., two police officers [believed to be the SO and WO #3] entered 1815 Yonge Street.
8:58:20 p.m., two police officers [believed to be WO #1 and WO #4] entered 1815 Yonge street and walked towards the elevators.
9:06:45 p.m., CW #4 walked into the lobby and walked outside.
9:08:30 p.m., CW #3 and CW #4 walked towards the elevators.
9:10:10 p.m., CW #3 and CW #4 walked into the lobby.
9:10:18 p.m., three police officers entered the building and walked towards the elevators.
9:11:00 p.m., two police officers entered the building and walked towards the elevator.
9:11:21 p.m., CW #3 and CW #4 walked outside the building via the main door.
9:12:23 p.m., WO #4 and another police officer were in the lobby. WO #4 sat on a couch.
9:14:20 p.m., paramedics and police officers walked with a stretcher out of the building.
8:54:30 p.m., three paramedics with a stretcher along with CW #4 board the elevator. CW #3 walked to the elevators but did not board.
8:58:10 p.m., the SO and WO #4 walked to the elevators.
8:58:31 p.m., WO #1 and WO #3 joined the SO and WO #4 at the elevators. The police officers put on gloves.
8:59:45 p.m., the SO, WO #4, WO #3, and WO #1 boarded the elevator.
9:02:16 p.m., WO #3 exited the elevator and walked to the front desk area of the building.
9:06:35 p.m., CW #4 got off the elevator and went to the lobby.
9:08:31 p.m., a police officer boarded the elevator.
9:08:44 p.m., CW #3 and CW #4 walked to the elevators and got on.
9:09:57 p.m., CW #3 and CW #4 exited the elevator and went towards the lobby.
9:14:01 p.m., three paramedics and two police officers exited the elevator with a stretcher.
9:16:16 p.m., WO #5 and a police officer boarded the elevator.
In-car Camera System (ICCS) Footage – WO #1 and WO #3’s VehicleThis footage was from the ICCS of a police cruiser occupied by WO #1 and WO #3. The video was of no evidentiary value. The following is a summary of the relevant audio communications from the ICCS footage.
9:06:56 p.m., the dispatcher tried to communicate with two units.
9:11:17 p.m., voices were heard yelling, “Get down.”
9:11:20 p.m., a popping sound was heard [believed to be that of a CEW].
9:11:22 p.m., a popping sound was heard [believed to be that of a CEW].
9:11:25 p.m., a louder popping sound was heard, and voices were heard yelling, “Drop it now.”
9:11:52 p.m., emergency tone was heard. The dispatcher asked for the two units.
9:12:50 p.m., a male voice said, “Male came at my partner with a knife, one shot.”
9:12:57 p.m., the dispatcher asked if there were any injuries. WO #1 advised that no officers were injured.
9:14:56 p.m., the dispatcher wanted confirmation that shots were fired.
9:16:15 p.m., the dispatcher advised that a male with a knife [now determined to be the Complainant] came at a partner. The dispatcher was awaiting confirmation on shots fired.
9:16:45 p.m., WO #5 advised that a shot was fired in the hallway of the third floor. A request was made for two ambulances. WO #5 was to check on the injuries.
Materials Obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from TPS between May 25, 2021 and June 7, 2021:
• Communications Recordings;
• Fingerprints-the Complainant;
• Intergraph Computer-assisted Dispatch Event Report (x2);
• ICCS Footage;
• Notes-WO #1;
• Notes-WO #4;
• Notes-WO #2;
• Notes-WO #5;
• Notes-the SO;
• Notes-WO #6;
• Notes-WO #3;
• D53 Parade Sheet;
• Occurrence Report;
• Policy-Barricaded Persons;
• Policy-Service Firearms; and
• Policy-Use of Force;
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained the following records from other sources between May 26, 2021 and July 20, 2021:
• CCTV Footage-1815 Yonge Street;
• Medical Records- SBHSC; and
• Medical Records-Toronto EMS.
In the evening of May 22, 2021, the Complainant’s mother – CW #3 – made a 911 call seeking help for her son. CW #3 reported that the Complainant suffered from schizophrenia, was agitated, and had just hit her. When asked, CW #3 indicated that the Complainant did not have any weapons, but did have access to knives inside her apartment. Paramedics and police officers were dispatched to the address – a condominium building at 1815 Yonge Street.
The paramedics – three of them – were the first to arrive on scene. By that time, the Complainant’s father – CW #4 – was also at the address, waiting with CW #3 outside the building. He accompanied the paramedics to CW #3’s unit. The lead paramedic – CW #6 – knocked on the door and heard footsteps from inside, but the door remained closed. Given their information that the Complainant had assaulted his mother, the decision was made by the paramedics to wait for the arrival of the officers before trying to reach the Complainant again.
Four officers arrived at the third floor unit at about 9:00 p.m.: the SO, and WO #1, WO #3 and WO #4. They spoke briefly with CW #6 and then took up positions in the hallway in front of the locked door. The SO stood by the left side of the door as WO #4 was closer to the right, hinged side of the door. Behind them stood WO #3 and WO #1, respectively. The SO knocked on the door, announced their presence as the police, and asked to speak with the Complainant to ensure he was okay. There was no response from inside.
After a few minutes trying to attract the Complainant’s attention, the officers became concerned that he could be harming himself inside the unit and decided to enter. CW #6, who had retrieved a key from CW #4, provided it to the SO, who used it to unlock the door. The officer opened the door slightly but could see no one inside. WO #4 opened the door further, took a step inside, and observed the Complainant. The Complainant told the officers to get out, and had a knife in his right hand. He moved quickly in the direction of the officers, preventing them from closing the door as they retreated. The officers yelled at the Complainant to get down and drop the knife.
The Complainant continued to advance toward the officers and was unfazed even as the SO discharged his CEW at him. He raised his knife and attacked WO #4 with it. WO #4 raised his arms in self-defence and was pushed backward against the hallway wall. The officer lost his footing and found himself in a crouched position still fending off the Complainant, who continued to stab at him with the knife. WO #1 drew her CEW and discharged it at the Complainant, but it failed to immobilize him. Shortly thereafter, a gunshot was heard. The time was about 9:11 p.m.
The shot came from the SO. Seeing WO #4 on the ground and the Complainant over top of him with a knife, he fired his weapon into the Complainant’s back fearing for the officer’s life. The Complainant slumped backwards onto the hallway floor after the shooting. As he still had the knife in his possession, WO #4 fired his CEW at the Complainant. WO #3 ordered the Complainant to drop the knife a few times, and he eventually did so, after which he and the SO handcuffed the Complainant.
Following his arrest, CW #6, still on the third floor, rushed in to provide emergency care to the Complainant. The Complainant was transported to hospital, where despite resuscitative efforts, he was pronounced deceased at 10:00 p.m.
WO #4 was also taken to hospital. He had suffered superficial cuts to a forearm, as well as cuts to the right side of his head and right shoulder, and a stab wound in the back.
Cause of DeathThe pathologist at autopsy was of the preliminary view that the Complainant’s death was attributable to a “penetrating gunshot wound of the back”.
Section 34, Criminal Code -- Defence of person - Use of threat of force
(a) They believe on reasonable grounds that force is being used against them or another person or that a threat of force is being made against them or another person;(b) The act that constitutes the offence is committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or the other person from that use or threat of force; and(c) The act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.
(a) the nature of the force or threat;(b) the extent to which the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force;(c) the person’s role in the incident;(d) whether any party to the incident used or threatened to use a weapon;(e) the size, age, gender and physical capabilities of the parties to the incident;(f) the nature, duration and history of any relationship between the parties to the incident, including any prior use or threat of force and the nature of that force or threat;(f.1) any history of interaction or communication between the parties to the incident;(g) the nature and proportionality of the person’s response to the use or threat of force; and(h) whether the act committed was in response to a use or threat of force that the person knew was lawful.
Analysis and Director's Decision
Pursuant to section 34 of the Criminal Code, the use of force that would otherwise amount to an offence is legally justified if it was intended to protect against a reasonably apprehended attack, actual or threatened, and was itself reasonable in the circumstances. The following factors are among the circumstances to be considered in an assessment of the reasonableness of the force: the nature of the force or threat; the extent to which the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force; whether any party to the incident used or threatened to use a weapon; and, the nature and proportionality of the person’s response to the use or threat of force. In the instant case, there is insufficient evidence to reasonably establish that the discharge by the SO of his firearm fell outside the ambit of the section 34 protection.
The officers were lawfully placed at all times throughout their brief engagement with the Complainant. They had been called to the unit to assist paramedics as they endeavoured to examine the Complainant, whom had been reported in mental distress. As the Complainant had also been said to have been violent with his mother, and information in police records indicated he had a history of weapons-related offences, it would appear that a police presence was a reasonable precaution to ensue everyone’s safety.
With respect to the gunshot to the Complainant’s back, I am unable to reasonably conclude that it was not legally justified. The Complainant was in the middle of a knife attack on WO #4 when the SO, fearing for his partner’s life, fired his weapon. At that moment, there is no doubt that the Complainant constituted a real and imminent threat of grievous bodily harm and death to WO #4. He was armed with a knife, had already cut and stabbed WO #4 repeatedly, and had been undeterred by two preceding CEW discharges. In the circumstances, I am satisfied that the SO was within his rights to meet the lethal threat represented by the Complainant with lethal force of his own. While he or the other officers might have chosen to physically engage and overpower the Complainant, that option would have placed their own lives at risk given the knife in the Complainant’s hands; they cannot be faulted for not having done so.
Before closing the file, it bears noting that the officers who responded to deal with the Complainant gave little thought to requesting the presence of a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT), or believed that such a team was unavailable or inappropriate in the circumstances. These teams, which pair specially trained police officers with mental health nurses, are part of the police service’s strategy to engage more effectively with persons in mental health crisis. Pursuant to the terms of police service’s present policy, it appears that an MCIT ought to have been requested and/or deployed. That said, whether such a team might have contributed to a more positive outcome had they been at the scene is a matter of speculation. More to the point, even if the officers acted precipitously in the absence of an MCIT team, their indiscretion did not disqualify the SO from using force to protect WO #4 from an ongoing knife attack. Moreover, if the officers failed in their duty of care in this regard, their oversight was not so wanting as to constitute criminal negligence. The SO explained that the officers opened the door when they did because of a concern that the Complainant, in the state he was in and given his access to knives in the kitchen, might harm himself. That concern was not without foundation.
In the result, as there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO conducted himself unlawfully when he shot the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case. The file is closed.
Date: September 17, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) Times are derived from the internal clocks of the CEWs, which are not necessarily synchronized with actual time or between weapons. [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.