SIU Director’s Report - Case # 22-OCD-006
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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.
- 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 27-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn January 11, 2022, at about 1:20 a.m., the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) notified the SIU of the Complainant’s death.
According to the WRPS, on January 11, 2022, at about 12:20 a.m., the WRPS had received a 911 call from Civilian Witness (CW) #4 reporting that her former “boyfriend”, the Complainant, was threatening suicide and that he would jump out of his apartment if he saw police. At 12:38 a.m., the Subject Official (SO), Witness Official (WO) #1, WO #2 and WO #3 arrived at an address on Phillip Street, Waterloo, and obtained a key to the Complainant's apartment. The police officers ‘pinged’, meaning located the last cellular telephone tower through which the Complainant's cellular telephone was transmitting, and knocked on his apartment door. The police officers heard glass breaking and went into the apartment. No one was inside the apartment and the Complainant was located on the ground, deceased.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 01/11/2022 at 1:45 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 01/11/2022 at 4:40 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2
SIU investigators interviewed civilian and police witnesses, canvassed for additional witnesses, and searched for closed-circuit television (CCTV) data in the area where the incident occurred. SIU forensic investigators made digital photographs and a drawing of the scene, and collected exhibits relevant to the incident.
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):27-year-old male, deceased
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)
CW #2 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)
CW #3 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed
CW #6 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed on January 11, 2022, and January 12, 2022.
Subject OfficialsSO Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
The subject official was interviewed on February 24, 2022.
Witness OfficialsWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed on January 17, 2022, and January 26, 2022.
Service Employee WitnessesSEW Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
The SEW of the WRPS was not interviewed as a review of her notes indicated she had no new information to advance the investigation that was not already known from the interviews of the subject and witness officials, and from WRPS data obtained during the investigation.
The Scene Interior Scene
The Complainant’s apartment was found guarded by a WRPS officer. The entrance to the apartment unit showed no signs of being forced open. Immediately inside the entrance was a chair close by. The positioning of this chair seemed out of character considering the layout of the apartment unit. The apartment unit was a small, two-bedroom unit with a kitchenette area and a living room area. Entry led directly into the kitchenette area and continued south inside the apartment unit towards the living room area. At the south wall of the living room area was a large window that had been smashed out. A view outside this window confirmed that it was directly above the area of impact where the deceased had fallen.
Along the west side of the kitchenette and living room area was a small hallway that led to the bathroom and two bedrooms. In this hallway was another barbell similar to the one found outside in the parking lot. The entire apartment was relatively neat but cluttered. There was evidence of drug (marijuana) and alcohol use. A damaged, cellular telephone was in the living room area on the floor.
Photography of the interior scene and measurements were completed. After the photography, the SIU forensic investigators collected the cellular telephone from the living room area.
The scene had been properly secured and guarded by WRPS officers. The Complainant’s body was located at the south side of the building. The deceased was on his back with his head orientated in a southeast direction. The deceased was wearing a jacket, pants, and one boot. The other boot was found near the body. The area around the deceased had evidence of broken glass on the ground. Directly above this scene was an apartment window that had been broken out.
In the adjacent parking lot were several vehicles parked along the opposite side of the fence noted previously. In between two of the parked vehicles was a 25-pound, meaning 11-kilogram, barbell that was damaged.
Figure 1 - The 25-pound barbell that was located at the scene.
A blue, Infinity sedan parked east of the barbell was damaged at the passenger side rear near its fuel door. The vehicle was also covered with a light layer of snow that showed evidence of glass pieces in the snow. Other vehicles parked close by also showed evidence of glass pieces landing on the surface of the vehicles through the snow.
The scene and deceased were photographed.
Physical Evidence A cellular telephone was collected from the interior of the apartment by SIU forensic investigators.
The SIU received a series of screen shots of communications between CW #4 and the Complainant.
Forensic Evidence The results of the analyses of biological exhibits collected during the post-mortem were not available at the time of this report.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence The SIU searched for and obtained video footage from the address on Phillip Street, Waterloo. None of the footage recorded advanced the investigation of the officers’ interaction with the Complainant prior to his descent.
WRPS Telephone Communications Audio RecordingsThe following is a summary of the telephone communications between CW #4 and WRPS on January 11, 2022.
On January 11, 2022, shortly before 12:20:47 a.m., CW #4 called the WRPS non-emergency line to request a wellness check on her ex-boyfriend, the Complainant, who was threatening to kill himself. The police dispatcher asked for an address and CW #4 provided the Complainant’s address. CW #4 advised that the Complainant told her that if police showed up at his home, he was going to smash his window and jump.
The police dispatcher confirmed the Complainant’s address and asked CW #4 for her name, date of birth, address, and phone number, which she provided. The police dispatcher then asked for the Complainant’s name and CW #4 spelled it out for the police dispatcher. The police dispatcher asked for his date of birth or age and CW #4 advised he was 26 or 27 years old.
The police dispatcher asked CW #4 how she was receiving the information and CW #4 advised that she was his ex-girlfriend. She said he was sending her text messages saying that it would be her fault if he killed himself because she would not go see him.
The police dispatcher asked if the Complainant had ever tried to harm himself in the past and CW #4 said she was not aware of any such attempts. CW #4 was asked by the police dispatcher if she was aware of any alcohol consumption or drug use on the part of the Complainant and she advised that he was drunk, and was probably smoking marijuana and possibly other drugs. CW #4 was asked whom the Complainant lived with, and she advised that he lived with a friend. When asked if she knew if the friend was home, she explained that the friend spent most of his time at another friend’s place and she was not sure if the roommate was home.
The police dispatcher asked CW #4 when she received the most recent message from the Complainant, and she advised it was at 11:10 p.m., on January 10, 2022. CW #4 also stated she saw that the Complainant had posted on a social media ‘bio’ that if he killed himself, it would be her fault. The police dispatcher asked her if she saved the post and she advised that she had taken a screenshot of it. The police dispatcher asked CW #4 how the Complainant had been contacting her and she advised that it was via text message. CW #4 was then asked if the Complainant had access to a vehicle. She confirmed he drove and provided the vehicle’s licence plate.
The police dispatcher confirmed that the Complainant had threatened to break the window and jump, and asked CW #4 if he had made any other comments about what he planned to do. CW #4 reiterated that it was only if the police showed up. The police dispatcher asked if she told him she was contacting police and CW #4 advised that she did not. CW #4 was asked if there was a buzzer code to enter the building and she advised that there was no buzzer, but there was security staff at the front desk.
The police dispatcher asked how long it had been since the break-up and CW #4 advised that the relationship had been off and on, but the most recent break-up was two days prior. She said that since then the Complainant had been texting about killing himself to get her to go see him and told her that she was the only one who could save him. CW #4 was asked for a description of the Complainant. She described his race, height, body composition and facial hair. CW #4 was asked if the Complainant had any weapons, to which she replied not as far as she was aware.
The police dispatcher asked if the Complainant had access to medications and CW #4 said he did not. CW #4 told the dispatcher that the Complainant had sent her a picture of an exercise weight – a hand-held barbell - by the window because she told him she was going to text his mother. He kept telling her he was serious this time and it was not a joke. The dispatcher asked her if he had sent anything since they had been talking and she said no. The police dispatcher asked for the Complainant’s phone number and CW #4 provided it. She then asked CW #4 if she knew who the service provider was, and she said she believed it was Freedom Mobile.
The police dispatcher told CW #4 that she was going to send officers to check on the Complainant. She advised CW #4 to call back if she received any more messages from him and to save everything in case police officers needed to see it. The call terminated at 12:25:32 a.m.
At 12:27:43 a.m., a WRPS police dispatcher called CW #4 seeking information from her regarding the location of the building and in which direction the window referred to in the earlier communication was facing. CW #4 endeavoured to clarify the location of the building and directionality of the window, and the call was terminated at 12:30:59 a.m.
WRPS Radio Communications Audio RecordingsThe radio communications included transmissions about the information obtained from CW #4, deployment of police personnel to Phillip Street, requests for emergency medical personnel after the Complainant had descended to the ground, and securing the scene and evidence.
WRPS Body-worn Camera (BWC) Data – the SOThe following is a summary of the footage from the SO’s BWC.
At 12:31:29 a.m., WO #1, the SO [wearing his BWC], WO #2, and WO #3 gathered in the lobby of the Complainant’s residence at an address on Phillip Street with a security guard [now known to be CW #5] before taking an elevator to the Complainant’s floor. While waiting for an elevator, WO #1 asked the SO if they should have anyone outside. The SO stated, “I don’t think so.”
At 12:32:49 a.m., the elevator started its ascent to the Complainant’s floor.
At 12:33:18 a.m., the police officers and CW #5, holding the key fob for the Complainant’s apartment in his hand, walked out of the elevator at the Complainant’s floor. Only a brief conversation regarding the size of the involved apartment unit occurred during the ascent.
At 12:33:36 a.m., a police officer [perceived to be the SO] was heard using his portable police radio relaying that they were going to do a door knock.
At 12:33:41 a.m., WO #2 leaned his head towards the door to the Complainant’s apartment and appeared to be listening for any sounds from within the unit.
At 12:33:45 a.m., WO #3, who had followed CW #5 leading the police officers to the Complainant’s apartment, with WO #2, WO #1 and the SO following WO #3, knocked five times on the door of the unit.
At 12:33:48 a.m., the SO was heard saying, “If he opens the door do not let him close the door.”
At 12:33:58 a.m., the SO was heard spelling the Complainant’s given name for the benefit of the witness officials who, standing ahead of him, appeared to have their attention focused on the door of the Complainant’s apartment, apparently listening intently for any sounds from within the unit.
At 12:34:22 a.m., WO #3 knocked six times on the door of the Complainant’s apartment and waited near it for any audible response from within the unit.
At 12:34:37 a.m., WO #1 took a position behind the SO. The SO asked WO #1 to ascertain when the last message was received from the Complainant.
At 12:34:50 a.m., WO #3 knocked more forcefully eight times on the door of the Complainant’s apartment, and the SO was heard acknowledging WO #1’s information that the last message was received from the Complainant, “About an hour ago.”
At 12:35:19 a.m., WO #3 was depicted and heard knocking eight times on the door.
At 12:35:35 a.m., the SO used his portable police radio to contact WRPS communications, and asked them to ‘ping’ the Complainant’s cellular telephone.
At 12:35:38 a.m., WO #2, who was against the wall listening for any sounds coming from the Complainant’s apartment, raised his right index finger gesturing as though to signal the other police officers in the hallway to be quiet.
At 12:35:46 a.m., WO #3 knocked forcefully 13 times on the door of the Complainant’s apartment. One of the police officers [perceived to be WO #1] tried calling the Complainant’s cellular telephone and the SO was heard saying, “Give it a sec.”
WO #2 and WO #3 remained close to the door of the Complainant’s apartment evidently listening for any sounds from inside the unit.
At 12:36:44 a.m., the SO was heard confirming that the call placed to the Complainant’s cellular telephone went straight to voice mail.
At 12:36:52 a.m., at the SO’s request, CW #5 handed the electronic master key fob for the Complainant’s apartment to the SO, and left the area of the unit.
At 12:36:56 a.m., the electronic master key fob was depicted held between the SO’s right-hand fingers. At about the same time, WO #2 left the area of the door of the Complainant’s apartment following CW #5, and spoke to him while near WO #1, who remained to the right of the SO. Concurrent with these activities, WO #3 was heard knocking forcefully ten times on the door of the Complainant’s apartment.
At 12:37:06 a.m., WO #3, using a moderate and friendly tone of voice, was heard at the door of the Complainant’s apartment saying, “It’s the police – we just need to speak to ya – can you come to the door please?”
By 12:37:10 a.m., WO #3 finished speaking and WO #2 had returned to his original location beside the door of the Complainant’s apartment.
At 12:37:14 a.m., the SO was heard saying, “As soon as we get ping results back, even if we determine that the ping was an old ping, then we will go in.”
At 12:37:30 a.m., WO #3 knocked forcefully ten times on the door of the Complainant’s apartment. When the knocking ceased, the SO was heard saying, “Okay, so when we go in, just cover off the window first.” All the police officers appeared to be conversing among themselves in low tones trying to orient the interior of the Complainant’s apartment in relation to their respective positions in the corridor.
At 12:38:09 a.m., WO #3 leaned towards the door of the Complainant’s apartment and knocked forcefully 13 times on the door and, at 12:38:14 a.m., WO #3 spoke towards the door of the Complainant’s apartment, saying, “We just want to talk to you, can you please come to the door?”
At 12:38:27 a.m., the sound of something [now believed to the living room window] breaking in the Complainant’s apartment was audible in the BWC data recorded by the SO’s BWC, and a startled response was observed on WO #2 and WO #3 as the sound of breaking glass continued. WO #2 glanced at the SO as WO #2 was saying and gesturing for the SO to hurry, “Go, go, go, go, go!”
At 12:38:31 a.m., the SO was at the door of the Complainant’s apartment. His left hand was on the door lever trying to make it disengage the internal lock mechanism, and his right hand was frantically pressing the electronic master key fob on/around the door lock mechanism’s radio signal receiver. A red light from the mechanism was illuminated twice before a green light from the mechanism illuminated concurrent with the door lever being pressed fully downward releasing the internal hardware.
At 12:38:36 a.m., the SO was able to get the door of the Complainant’s apartment partially open – far enough to pass over the threshold to allow his entry. He was followed by the other police officers.
At 12:38:43 a.m., the SO was at the window opening facing the outside. A Grand River Transit bus was visible moving towards and then slowly entering Phillip Street.
At 12:38:47 a.m., the SO scanned through the window opening and, using his portable police radio, transmitted, “Male’s out the window – need EMS immediately.”
At 12:38:55 a.m., the SO radioed again, saying, “Okay, we’re on the scene – we’ll hold the scene.”
At 12:39:10 a.m., the SO was heard saying, “Okay, somebody go downstairs and secure that scene – we’ll secure this.”
WO #1 left the Complainant’s apartment to attend and check on the Complainant on the ground outside the building while the SO, WO #2 and WO #3 were depicted checking the Complainant’s apartment, with no other occupants found in it.
Materials Obtained from Police Service The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the WRPS:
- Communications audio recordings;
- BWC data;
- Notes of WOs and SEW;
- Civilian Witness List;
- Computer-aided Dispatch details;
- Forensic identification photographs portfolio;
- General Report of undesignated officer;
- Interview Summary of five witnesses;
- Niche Records Management System Report-Occurrence-list of police involvement;
- Police Regionalized Information and Data Entry General Report of undesignated officer;
- WRPS Procedure-Mentally Ill Developmentally Disabled Emotionally Disturbed Persons;
- Sudden Death Report;
- Supplementary Report of two undesignated officers; and
- Training Records for SO.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained and reviewed cellular telephone screenshots from CW #4.
At about 12:20 a.m. of January 11, 2022, officers, including the SO, were dispatched to an address on Phillip Street, Waterloo. They were there to check on the welfare of the Complainant following reports from his former girlfriend that he was threatening suicide. The girlfriend – CW #4 – had been receiving text communiqués from the Complainant asking that she visit him at his apartment or he would harm himself. In those communiqués, the Complainant had indicated he would jump from his apartment if police were sent to his residence. This too was conveyed to the police service by CW #4.
The SO arrived at the building and, in the company of witness officials, ascended to the Complainant’s floor in an elevator. With them was a building security guard – CW #5 – who had a master key. The officers positioned themselves around the outside of the Complainant’s apartment and waited quietly for a period to see if they could hear anything from inside. Not hearing anything, the decision was made to knock on the door. WO #3 did so, and still there was no response. WO #3 did so again, this time announcing loudly that it was the ‘police’ and they wanted to speak with the Complainant. After several minutes of knocking and talking through the door, the officers heard glass breaking from inside the apartment.
The sound was the Complainant using a dumbbell to break open the living room window. Shortly after doing so, the Complainant jumped through the opening falling to the ground below. The time was 12:38 a.m.
Upon hearing the glass breaking, the SO used the master key to unlock the door and enter the apartment. His ingress was delayed momentarily by a chair that had been set up behind the door to prevent it from opening. The officer managed to push open the door sufficiently and entered to find the living room window broken open. Looking through the window to the ground below, the SO observed the Complainant’s body. He radioed for an ambulance.
Cause of DeathThe pathologist at autopsy was of the preliminary view that the Complainant’s death was attributable to ‘Multiple blunt impact trauma’. He further noted that the Complainant’s injuries were ‘Consistent with descent from height’.
Sections 219 and 220, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing death
(a) in doing anything, or(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
(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 meant to capture serious cases of neglect that demonstrate a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons. A simple want of care is insufficient to give rise to liability. Rather, what is required is 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 any want of care in the manner in which the SO approached the situation involving the Complainant, sufficiently egregious to attract criminal sanction, that contributed to his death. In my view, there was not.
The SO and his colleagues were in the lawful execution of their duties as they responded to the Complainant’s apartment. A police officer’s foremost duty is the protection and preservation of life. Given what the officers knew of the Complainant’s troubled state of mind, I am satisfied that they were duty bound to take reasonable measures to ensure his safety.
The officers’ decision to attend at the apartment door and announce their presence is subject to legitimate scrutiny. They knew that the Complainant had told his girlfriend that he would jump from his apartment if the police attended. True to his word, shortly after WO #3 knocked and identified themselves as police officers, the Complainant broke the living room window and leapt to his death.
The officers, however, had a tough decision to make. They were aware that their very presence might provoke the Complainant to harm himself. On the other hand, they would have also appreciated that the Complainant might harm himself in any event given what they had learned of his communications with CW #4, namely, that he had threatened to kill himself if she did not visit him at his apartment. In the circumstances, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the SO and his colleagues acted with reckless disregard for the Complainant’s well-being when they acted as they did. In this regard, it is important to note that the officers did what they could to mitigate the risks of their attendance – they arrived at the building without use of their emergency equipment, parked on the side of the building opposite the Complainant’s apartment, and initially knocked on the door without identifying themselves. Things might have been different had the officers had access to the WRPS Integrated Mobile Police and Crisis Team (IMPACT). IMPACT brings together the police service in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association to better respond to calls for service involving persons in mental health crisis. However, IMPACT was not available at the time of the incident.
For the foregoing reasons, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law when he attended at the Complainant’s residence. Whether the officer made the right choice is arguably subject to debate. In any event, whatever one thinks of the merits of the SO’s decision, I am satisfied that the officer’s conduct fell short of constituting a marked and substantial departure from a reasonable standard of care. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.
Date: May 5, 2022
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.