SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OCI-242


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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 a serious injury sustained by a 29-year-old woman (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On August 3, 2021, at 12:33 a.m., the Sarnia Police Service (SPS) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant.

The SPS advised that on August 2, 2021, at 7:05 p.m., police officers attended a self-storage business at Devine Street, Sarnia, for a mischief call. A woman [now determined to be the Complainant] was hindering motorists from leaving the facility. When police officers arrived, they encountered the Complainant, whom they intended to arrest for mischief. The Complainant resisted the police officers and hung onto a guide wire from a nearby utility pole. One of the arresting police officers swept the Complainant’s feet from under her. In doing so, the police officer fell on top of the Complainant. The Complainant was subsequently handcuffed, and an ambulance was requested.

The Complainant was transported to Bluewater Health Centre in Sarnia. She was diagnosed with a fracture to her thoracic spine T-12. The Complainant was in stable condition in hospital.

The Team

Date and time team dispatched: 08/03/2021 at 1:14 a.m.

Date and time SIU responded: 08/03/2021 at 1:23 a.m.

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3

Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):

29-year-old female interviewed, medical records obtained and reviewed

The Complainant was interviewed on August 3, 2021.

Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed

The civilian witnesses were interviewed on August 3, 2021.

Subject Officials

SO Declined interview, as is the subject official’s legal right. Notes received and reviewed.

Witness Officials

WO Interviewed

The witness official was interviewed on August 5, 2021.


The Scene

The scene was at Sarnia Self-Storage located at Devine Street in Sarnia. It had a security coded access gate which allowed access to the facility.

No forensic investigators attended the location to conduct a scene exam and, therefore, no diagram was produced.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence [1]

Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) Video from Sarnia Self-Storage

The recordings, which did not capture sound, ran from 7:03 p.m. to 8:03 p.m. of August 2, 2021. The following is a summary of the images captured on the video.

At 7:03 p.m., the Complainant ran to the front of the Sarnia Self-Storage entrance as the security gate was opening and a blue car was attempting to exit. The Complainant was shirtless, had no shoes on, and was holding something in her right hand. The Complainant stood directly in the middle of the driveway not allowing the car to exit the lot.

At 7:04 p.m., the Complainant began dancing in front of the blue car in the driveway.

At 7:18 p.m., the Complainant jumped on top of the hood of the blue car driven by a man [CW #1]. The Complainant began tapping on the front windshield.

At 7:20 p.m., the Complainant began pulling on the vehicle’s windshield wipers.

At 7:22 p.m., two women approached the blue car from across the street [CW #4 and CW #3’s wife]. CW #3’s wife attempted to speak to the Complainant and then spoke to CW #1, who remained in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. The Complainant appeared angry and began banging on the hood of the car.

At 7:23 p.m., CW #3’s wife walked towards the end of the driveway. The Complainant got off the car and approached CW #3’s wife. The Complainant attempted to punch CW #3’s wife. A man [CW #3] approached from across the street. CW #3’s wife and the Complainant appeared to engage in a verbal argument.

At 7:25 p.m., CW #3 and his wife walked across the street. The Complainant started dancing in the driveway. The blue car driven by CW #1 attempted to leave the driveway, but the Complainant moved in front of it blocking its exit.

At 7:26 p.m., the Complainant appeared to be standing with one leg on the bumper of the car. An SPS fully marked Dodge Charger cruiser arrived with its emergency lights engaged and parked on the opposite side of the street in front of 721 Divine Street. The WO exited the cruiser and approached the Complainant, who moved her leg off the car and appeared to be speaking to the WO. The WO went to speak to the occupants of the car while the Complainant remained on the sidewalk.

At 7:28 p.m., a second SPS police SUV cruiser arrived and parked in front of the driveway facing east. A police officer [now determined to be the SO] exited the cruiser.

At 7:29 p.m., the WO grabbed the Complainant’s left hand. She pulled away and grabbed onto a yellow hydro pole guide wire with her other hand. The SO grabbed the Complainant’s left shoulder. Both police officers pulled the Complainant away from the wire and onto the ground on her back. The Complainant continued to struggle and grabbed the wire again while on the ground. The SO grabbed her right arm putting it behind her back and the Complainant was pushed to the ground face down. The Complainant continued to struggle on the ground. The SO had his left knee on her back while the WO placed the Complainant’s left hand behind her back and put the handcuffs on her. The Complainant was brought to an upright position at which time she dropped her weight and struggled with the officers, kicking out her legs. The SO tripped her to the ground and used his right hand on her back to keep her pinned to the ground. The Complainant was on her left side while the SO held her down by her left shoulder. The WO was standing above her.

At 7:31 p.m., the SO stood still holding onto the Complainant’s left shoulder while the WO knelt behind her holding onto her arms. The three remained in that position until 7:38 p.m., when the SO approached CW #2, who was in the passenger seat of the blue car.

At 7:39 p.m., the SO collected the Complainant’s personal belongings that were at the side of the driveway and brought them to where she was lying on her side on the ground being held down by the WO. An ambulance arrived and pulled into the driveway. Paramedics began treating the Complainant while she remained on her side on the ground.

At 7:43 p.m., the Complainant started to resist the WO who was still holding her hands on the left side while the SO grabbed her right side and pushed her face down. They remained in this position while paramedics treated the Complainant until 7:49 p.m., at which time the Complainant was brought to her feet and placed onto a stretcher.

At 7:56 p.m., the ambulance with the Complainant inside left the scene while the SO followed in his cruiser.

911 Calls and Communications Recordings

The recordings were made on August 2, 2021. The recordings were not time stamped.

911 Call from CW #2

CW #2 called 911. CW #2 told the dispatcher that she was trying to leave her storage unit, and there was a person [now determined to be the Complainant] standing in the way and she had no way out of the storage facility. CW #2 gave her location as the Sarnia Self-Serve Storage. CW #2 gave the dispatcher a description of the Complainant. The dispatcher asked if the Complainant had any weapons and CW #2 replied she did not know.

Second 911 Call from CW #2

CW #2 called 911 again to report the Complainant had jumped on the car in which she was a passenger. The Complainant was punching the windshield. CW #2 reported to the dispatcher that the Complainant was getting aggressive.

Police Recordings

The police dispatcher notified the WO and SO of a complaint at Sarnia Self-Serve Storage. The dispatcher advised that CW #2 was trying to pull out of the storage unit and the Complainant was blocking the way out. Time of dispatch was 7:21 p.m.

Third 911 Call from CW #2

CW #2 told the dispatcher the Complainant was physically attacking people.

Police Recordings

The dispatcher advised the WO and SO that the Complainant was attacking people. The SO requested an ambulance. The dispatcher requested an ambulance.

The SO advised the dispatcher the ambulance was at scene. The Complainant was being loaded onto the ambulance. The Complainant was sedated by paramedics.

The SO advised the dispatcher he was going to follow the ambulance to the hospital.

Materials Obtained from Police Service

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the SPS:

• General Occurrence;
• Event Chronology;
• Involved Persons;
• Policy on Arrest, Detention, Transportation, Searching and Care of Prisoners;
• Policy on Police Response to Emotionally Disturbed Persons;
• Policy on Use of Force;
• Notes of SO and WO; and
• Communications recordings.

Materials Obtained from Other Sources

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the following other sources:
• Medical Record-Bluewater Health; and
CCTV Sarnia Self-Storage.

Incident Narrative

The material events in question are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU and may be briefly summarized. As was his legal right, the SO chose not to interview with the SIU. He did authorize the release of his notes.

In the evening of August 2, 2021, the SO and WO arrived at the entrance to the parking lot of the Sarnia Self Storage, 720 Devine Street. They had been dispatched following a call from a motorist – CW #2 - reporting a disturbance involving the Complainant. The caller and her partner – CW #1 – were being prevented from exiting the premises in their vehicle by the Complainant.

The WO spoke with CW #1 and learned that the Complainant, who was still in the vicinity of the driveway, had jumped on the hood of his vehicle and damaged the windshield. The officers approached the Complainant and advised her she was under arrest for mischief.

The Complainant resisted her arrest. She grabbed hold of a utility pole guide wire by the west side of the driveway and refused to let go. The officers pulled her free of the wire, and brought her down onto a patch of grass by the pole. The Complainant continued to struggle but was subdued and handcuffed behind her back.

Shortly after being assisted to her feet by the officers, the Complainant began to flail her legs. The SO used his right leg to trip the Complainant onto the ground. The Complainant landed in a seated position, with the SO landing partially on top of her. She was quickly rolled onto her side and front, at which point the officer used his right hand to push down on her back.

Realizing that the Complainant had been injured, the officers called for paramedics and maintained her on the ground until their arrival.

The Complainant was transported to hospital from the scene. She was diagnosed with a compression fracture of the T12 vertebral body.

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

The Complainant was seriously injured on August 2, 2021, in the course of her arrest by two SPS officers. One of the 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 required or authorized to do by law. Having spoken to CW #1 and seen some damage to his windshield, I am satisfied that the WO was within his rights in seeking to arrest the Complainant for mischief.

I am further satisfied that neither officer used excessive force in taking the Complainant into custody. The initial takedown was necessitated by the Complainant’s unwillingness to let go of the utility pole guide wire as the officers were trying to effect her arrest. The action essentially consisted of the officers pulling her free of the wire, and resulted, as much from her countervailing resistance as the force used by the officers, in her position on the ground. Once handcuffed on the ground, the Complainant was lifted to her feet, at which point she began to wildly kick out her legs. A further takedown in these circumstances was not unreasonable in my view given the need to maintain control over the Complainant’s movements for her safety and the safety of the officers. The SO appears to have partially fallen over the Complainant as she fell, applying some of his weight to her body in the process, and then used his right hand on her back to keep her pinned to the ground. While the evidence suggests this was when the Complainant’s back was fractured, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the SO acted unreasonably. The Complainant had to that point demonstrated a dogged determination to struggle against the officers’ efforts at every opportunity, and the SO was entitled to resort to a measure of force to overcome her resistance. A temporary application of pressure to the Complainant’s back was not a disproportionate use of force in the circumstances. It should be noted that the Complainant was at no point struck by the officers with any blow.

For the foregoing reasons, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either the WO or the SO comported themselves unlawfully in their dealings with the Complainant. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges against the officers, and the file is closed.

Date: December 1, 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.