SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OCD-188
This page contains graphic content that can shock, offend and upset.
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 38-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn June 20, 2021, the Niagara Parks Police Service (NPPS) notified the SIU of an incident regarding a suicidal man near Niagara Falls. Two NPPS Provincial Offences Officers were the first to respond, and began speaking to a man. As two NPPS officers in full police uniform arrived, the man walked to the edge, jumped in the water, and was swept over the falls.
Date and time team dispatched: 06/21/2021 at 11:52 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 06/21/2021 at 12:17 p.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):
38-year-old male, deceased
CW #1 Next-of-kin
CW #2 Next-of-kin
Subject OfficialsSO Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject official’s legal right.
The subject official was interviewed on July 5, 2021.
Witness OfficialsWO Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
Service Employee Witnesses
SEW #1 Interviewed
SEW #2 Interviewed
The service employee witnesses were interviewed on June 24, 2021.
The Scene The scene was Niagara Falls.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence NPPS operated four surveillance cameras, and the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) had one mounted on a building called the real-time operations centre.
NPPS cameras captured the event beginning at 2:17:01 p.m., at which time the SO and the WO were seen at the Table Rock Centre walking south across the front of the building. SEW #1, wearing a yellow jacket, could be seen walking south along the river barrier towards SEW #2, who was standing with her back to the barrier wall.
At 2:17:15 p.m., the SO and the WO were still approaching, walking south on the path directly in front of the building.
At 2:17:26 p.m., the WO started to run towards where SEW #1 had gone off camera.
At 2:17:28 p.m., the Complainant was observed running north on the grass median on the east side of the stone barrier (river side of barrier). The Complainant took five running steps before he ran off the edge of the riverbank and fell face first toward the Niagara River.
At 2:17:30 p.m., the four NPPS members could all be seen on the west side of the barrier moving north.
At 2:17:36 p.m., the Complainant could be seen floating with his head above the water towards the falls. The NPPS members were following along on the west side of the barrier.
At 2:17:40 p.m., the Complainant was pushed against a stone wall on the west bank of the river. He stood up and attempted to grab hold of the wall before being swept away by the strong current towards the falls.
At 2:17:51 p.m., the Complainant reached the brink of the falls and went off camera.
The real-time operations centre camera showed that at 2:18:21 p.m., the SO, the WO and SEW #1 were running north along the west side of the stone barrier and looking over the barrier and down to the river.
At 2:18:33 p.m., the Complainant could be seen in the river at the brink of the falls, and then going over the falls and down into the cascading water.
Computer-aided Dispatch (CAD) ReportOn June 23, 2021, at 12:11 p.m., a copy of the CAD Report was received in disclosure. There were two NRPS CAD reports received. NRPS was the host agency for the dispatch and CAD systems utilized by the NPPS.
NRPS had received a call for a possible suicidal male who was thought to be in the area of Niagara Falls at 2:06 p.m., on June 20, 2021. This information was broadcast to all NRPS and NPPS members.
At 2:17:30 p.m., SEW #1 advised dispatch that they believed they had spotted the suicidal man at the barrier near the brink of the falls.
At 2:19:30 p.m., the SO advised that a man had jumped into the river and gone over the falls after seeing NPPS members.
At 2:21:29 p.m., the NRPS real-time operations centre confirmed that a man had gone over the falls (via video monitoring).
At 2:23:30 p.m., the SO broadcast that he had witnesses with him. SEW #1 and SEW #2 were standing by at the top of the falls looking to see if the man emerged in the river below.
Searches were conducted by NPPS and NRPS members along the riverbank below and using a boat to search the river below the falls. A call was also made to the Maid of the Mist tour boats on the United States side of the river to be on the look-out for the man during their trips on the river.
At 4:05 p.m., the man in the first incident was located alive and well by a NRPS officer.
Materials Obtained from Police Service
The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the NPPS and from the NRPS:
• Notes of SEWs and WO;
• NPPS Civilian Witness list;
• NRPS Call Hardcopy (x2);
• Surveillance camera video recordings;
• NRPS Incident Report;
• Supplemental Reports; and
• Witness Statements.
Materials Obtained from Other Sources
The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the following other sources:
• DNA results from the Centre of Forensic Sciences; and
• Preliminary Autopsy Findings from the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service.
In the afternoon of June 20, 2021, the Complainant found himself in Niagara Falls. He was sitting on the land side of a stone wall that bordered the Niagara River, just south of the waterfall. In the opinion of some of the witnesses, the Complainant appeared depressed.
At about the same time, the NPPS were on the look-out for a suicidal male who was thought to be in the area. SEW #1 and SEW #2 were on patrol when they came across the Complainant and believed he might be the male in question. SEW #2 asked the Complainant how he was doing, and he responded positively. SEW #2 radioed her communications centre suggesting the Complainant was the person they were looking for.
The SO and his partner on the day, the WO, heard the radio broadcast. They were nearby and decided to make their way to the location. As the officers approached the scene, the Complainant climbed over the railing of the fence and landed on the riverbank on a patch of grass. Seeing this, the SO and the WO ran toward where the Complainant had climbed the fence, yelling, “Don’t do it!”
The Complainant ran across the narrow patch of grass and entered the water of the fast flowing river. Within seconds, he was falling down the waterfall. The time was 2:17 p.m.
Cause of DeathThe pathologist at autopsy was of the preliminary view that the Complainant’s death was attributable to “drowning in a man with blunt injuries”.
Analysis and Director's Decision
There is nothing in the evidence gathered by the SIU to suggest that the SO, or any of the NPPS personnel who briefly dealt with the Complainant, failed to exercise a reasonable level of care, or otherwise caused or contributed to the Complainant’s death. SEW #1 and SEW #2 were pleasant in their interaction with the Complainant, and he was pleasant in return. The SO and the WO were still metres away from the Complainant when he quickly climbed over the fence and entered the water. There was simply no opportunity in any of this for the officers to have prevented the Complainant acting as he did. Nor was there any opportunity for them to have saved the Complainant going over the falls once he was in the water.
It would appear that the Complainant was despondent and intent on taking his life on the day in question. The information received by the SIU suggested that the date of the Complainant’s death may have been of particular significance to him. Be that as it may, as I am satisfied that the SO comported himself throughout this tragic event with due care and regard for the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case. The file is closed.
Date: October 18, 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.