SIU Director’s Report - Case # 22-TCD-112
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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.
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- 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
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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 37-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn April 15, 2022, at 1:40 a.m., of the Toronto Police Service (TPS) notified the SIU of the death of the Complainant.
According to the TPS, on April 15, 2022, at 12:38 a.m., police officers were requested to attend the area of the Leaside Bridge located at Overlea Boulevard and Millwood Road, Toronto. Reportedly, an unknown man had been observed sitting on the edge of the bridge. The Subject Official (SO) and Witness Official (WO) #2 arrived at the top of the bridge minutes later. The police officers approached the man and made eye contact with the man, at which point he moved to a standing position. The police officers continued to approach the man as they believed he was going to jump. The officers made physical contact with the man by grabbing onto him; however, they lost their grip and the man fell to the roadway of the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) below. WO #1, who attended at the DVP location at 12:43 a.m., indicated that it was believed that the man had been struck by several vehicles after the fall. He was pronounced deceased at that time and remained on scene. Body-worn Camera (BWC) footage was available, and all police officers had returned to the TPS Division. The coroner had been advised and was responding.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 04/15/2022 at 2:18 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 04/15/2022 at 2:37 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):37-year-old male, deceased
Civilian Witnesses (CW) CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed on April 16, 2022.
Subject Official (SO) SO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
Witness Officials (WO) WO #1 Interviewed; notes received
WO #2 Interviewed; notes received
WO #3 Not interviewed; notes received
WO #4 Interviewed; notes received
WO #5 Interviewed; notes received
WO #6 Not interviewed; notes received
The witness officials were interviewed on April 15, 2022, and April 20, 2022.
The Scene On April 15, 2022, at 4:25 a.m., two SIU Forensic Investigators (FIs) arrived on scene on the Leaside Bridge – an extension of Millwood Road over the Don River and the DVP. The scene was well protected from all vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Millwood Road was a north-south road with three lanes of traffic in each direction. The DVP was a north/south divided highway but curved to an east/west orientation at this location before returning to a north-south orientation. The DVP was a three-lane highway in each direction.
The Complainant’s body was in the centre lane of the southbound traffic (westbound in this location), west of the overpass. The body was covered with a blanket. There was debris and blood smears on the roadway leading from the overpass to the body. The blanket was removed to reveal the body of the Complainant who had severe injury to his extremities and his torso.
A SIU FI obtained fingerprints from the body, which resulted in the positive identification of the Complainant.
The scene was photographed showing the position of the body and the trail of debris leading west from the west side of the overpass to the resting position of the body. A cellular telephone, part of the debris, was collected as evidence. The body was sealed in a body bag and transported to the Coroner’s Building in Toronto for post-mortem examination.
A TPS police vehicle, a fully marked Ford Explorer equipped with emergency lights and an in-car camera system (ICCS), was parked on the bridge in the southbound curb lane of Millwood Road, facing south, next to the westside sidewalk.
There was a sidewalk on each side of the road and a barrier protecting the edge of the overpass. The railing was approximately 1.4 metres high. The barrier consisted of a concrete base to a height of 0.9 metres with a metal railing on top of the concrete. There was no ledge beyond the railing but a concrete base for an overhead streetlight provided a perch beyond the railing.
The police vehicle was stopped north of one of the light standards, which had a sign attached: “Pape Ave Keep Right”. This light standard was directly above the centre southbound (westbound) lane of the DVP.
The overpass was photographed, and measurements were taken for a scale drawing.
Figure 1 – Incident scene photo taken by CW #2
Figure 2 – Photo of incident scene
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence The SIU obtained BWC footage from the SO, WO #2, WO # 3 and WO #4.
Also obtained were photographs from the TPS and CW #2, a copy of the TPS communications audio, and in-car camera system (ICCS) footage.
BWC FootageThe following are summaries of the footage captured by several TPS officers of the events in question.
The recording started at 12:42:45 a.m. of April 15, 2022. The SO drove a TPS vehicle south on the Leaside Bridge with the west side of the bridge on his passenger side. CW #2 was seen standing on the sidewalk on the west side of the bridge. The SO momentarily stopped and then continued to drive south for a short period of time. A pole for a streetlamp was observed on the passenger side of his police vehicle. A sign on the pole indicated: “PAPE AVE TURN RIGHT”.
The SO exited his driver’s door at 12:43:07 a.m. The audio for his BWC activated at 12:43:12 a.m. He was between six to nine metres away from the pole. The west side of the bridge had a concrete wall, about 0.7 metres tall, with a see-through metal railing on top, about .6 metres tall. The back of the Complainant could be seen in a seated position, on the left side of the pole, with his right arm around the pole. The Complainant faced down to the roadway. The SO said, “Hey buddy.”
At 12:43:20 a.m., the camera screen went dark, although there was movement as the camera lens was against the top of the railing, which blocked the view.
At 12:43:22 a.m., the SO stood up from leaning over the railing and the Complainant could not be seen. The SO was upset and sat down on the sidewalk.
WO #2 was the front seat passenger with the SO. His BWC footage started at 12:42:41 a.m.
At 12:42:45 a.m., the police vehicle pulled up beside CW #2, who was on the sidewalk on the west side of the bridge. CW #2 pointed in a southerly direction to a light pole with a sign on it.
The SO was in front of WO #2 and, at 12:43:18 a.m., the SO walked towards the pole. The SO was on the left side of the pole, and reached over the railing. WO #2 approached the back of the SO, and the camera was obstructed. There was movement as the BWC recorded the back of the SO’s body.
At 12:43:28 a.m., the SO stood back from the railing and broadcast on his microphone, “Fell off bridge.”
At 12:43:49 a.m., a police vehicle pulled up [now known to be WO #4 and WO #5].
WO #4 was a passenger in the front seat of a police vehicle. His BWC recording started at 12:43:15 a.m. The police vehicle passed two police officers [now known to be the SO and WO #2] standing at the west side of the bridge.
At 12:43:45 a.m., the sound on the BWC was activated. At 12:43:46 a.m., WO #4 exited the police vehicle and walked back to the SO and WO #2, who stood looking over the railing of the bridge. There was a cruiser just north of the pole and a police officer was heard to say, “Oh my God.”
WO #4 looked over the railing. The top of a bus could be seen to travel southbound (westbound) in the curb lane. A van and a black car appeared to collide with the body, which was in the centre southbound lane.
At 12:44:43 a.m., a police officer was heard to say, “Male in centre lane, southbound.” The SO appeared to be upset and sat down on the sidewalk.
WO #3’s BWC footage started at 12:45 a.m. WO #3 asked the SO if he was okay, and the SO shook his head that he was okay; he appeared shaken up. WO #3 asked the SO what happened. The SO pointed to the railing at the left side of the pole and said, “He was on this ledge here as, as soon as he saw me, he tried to move forward. I tried to grab him.” The SO showed WO #3 his hands, up in the air. The SO then said, “He fell.”
WO #6’s BWC recording started at 12:45 a.m. as he pulled up on the scene. He was approached by CW #2, who told WO #6 that he was walking south on the bridge and had seen someone sitting on a ledge over the railing.
Communications RecordingsOn April 15, 2022, at 12:38 a.m., CW #2 called 911 and reported that a man [now known to be the Complainant] had climbed over the railing on the Leaside Bridge and was going to jump into the southbound lanes of the DVP. The Complainant was at a sign, “Pape Ave Keep Right”. CW #2 did not intend to approach him.
TPS police officers from two TPS divisions, along with a TPS traffic sergeant, were dispatched to the bridge.
At 12:43 a.m., CW #2 was heard to give directions to WO #2 regarding the Complainant’s location. CW #2 then told the police call-taker that he had spoken with a police officer.
Traffic officer, WO #1, reported that the Complainant had jumped and he was in the middle lane of the DVP. WO #1 then reported that the Complainant had been struck by other traffic.
WO #4 reported, “He fell. He fell onto the highway.”
The TPS contacted Toronto Paramedic Services.
At 12:52 a.m., a woman, who identified herself as CW #1, called 911 and reported that she had possibly run over a person lying on the DVP.
At 12:59 hrs, a TPS police officer reported that the Complainant had been pronounced deceased.
Materials Obtained from Police ServiceThe SIU obtained the following records from the TPS between April 19, 2022, and April 28, 2022:
- Notes- WO #1;
- Notes- WO #2;
- Notes- WO #4;
- Notes- WO #5;
- Notes- WO #3;
- Notes- WO #6;
- ICCS footage;
- BWC footage;
- Communications recordings;
- Event Details Report;
- General Occurrence-Sudden Death;
- Motor Vehicle Accident Report;
- Policy-Persons in Crisis; and
- Scene photos.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained the following records from the following other sources:
- CW #2 - typed statement;
- Toronto Emergency Medical Services - Incident Summary Report; and
- Toronto Emergency Medical Services - Ambulance Call Report.
At about 12:38 a.m. of April 15, 2022, a 911 call was received by the TPS. The caller – CW #2 – had observed a man positioned on the outer aspect of the railing on the Leaside Bridge, atop the DVP. Officers were dispatched to the scene to investigate.
The SO and his partner, WO #2, arrived on the bridge in their police vehicle at about 12:43 a.m. They stopped briefly to speak with CW #2, who pointed out the Complainant’s precise location. The officers continued south and brought their vehicle to a stop along the southside curb lane of the bridge, north of the Complainant.
The Complainant was perched on the concrete base of a light pole, situated on the outer side of the bridge railing. He was directly over the southbound lanes of the DVP. At the sight of the police officers exiting their cruiser and approaching his location, the Complainant decided to jump.
The SO walked towards the Complainant, reached over the railing, and grabbed hold of his jacket. He managed to pull the Complainant back towards the railing, but only temporarily. WO #2 also reached over and attempted to hold onto the Complainant. The Complainant struggled to release the officers’ hold and was eventually able to propel himself off the concrete pad. The Complainant dangled in the air briefly before the SO lost his grip and he fell to the roadway. The entire interaction was a matter of seconds.
The Complainant was struck by several southbound motor vehicles. The impact with the ground and the vehicles resulted in catastrophic injury. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The pathologist at autopsy attributed the cause of the Complainant’s death to “multiple blunt force trauma”.
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 reserved for serious cases of neglect that demonstrate a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons. A simple want of care will not suffice to give rise to liability. Rather, what is required, in part, is conduct amounting to 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 question is whether there was a want of care in the manner in which the SO comported himself, sufficiently egregious to attract criminal sanction, that caused or contributed to the Complainant’s death. In my view, there was not.
The SO and WO #2 were in the lawful execution of their duties when they attended at the bridge to check on the Complainant and render aid. An officer’s foremost obligation is the protection and preservation of life. Having received word of an individual in a precarious position on the Leaside Bridge, seemingly intent on jumping, the officers were duty bound to do what they could to prevent that from happening.
I am also satisfied that the officers conducted themselves with due care and attention for the Complainant’s well-being throughout their engagement. They approached the scene having turned off their cruiser’s emergency equipment, presumably so as not rattle or provoke the Complainant. They had just exited their vehicle a short distance from the Complainant when he made as if to jump from the bridge. There was little to no opportunity for negotiation other than the SO’s utterance, “Hey, buddy.” The officers managed to reach and grab hold of the Complainant before he fell, but his weight and struggle to free himself from their grips proved too much. In retrospect, perhaps the officers would have been better served to maintain their distance from the Complainant - it would appear that their arrival at the scene caught the Complainant by surprise and was the final impetus for his jump. It might be that such an approach would have allowed time for a trained negotiator to attend the scene to deal with the Complainant. This, of course, is speculation. One could easily also conceive of a situation in which the officers’ approach worked to save the Complainant’s life. They did, after all, have the Complainant in their grasps for a while.
For the foregoing reasons, I am satisfied that the SO did not transgress the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law in relation to the Complainant’s tragic death. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case. The file is closed.
Date: August 12, 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.