SIU Director’s Report - Case # 23-PCI-024


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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 section 14 (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 19-year-old woman (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU [1]

On January 22, 2023, at 10:26 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time), the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) contacted the SIU with the following information.

On January 20, 2023, at 11:36 p.m. (Central Standard Time), the Complainant was arrested on the strength of a warrant in Sioux Lookout. While being searched, an item believed to contain crystal methamphetamine was seized. The Complainant was taken to the detachment and lodged in cell at 12:49 a.m., January 21, 2023. [2] At 9:47 a.m., the Complainant was taken for a bail hearing in WASH Court, [3] at which the Justice of the Peace instructed OPP officers to have the Complainant medically cleared before being transported to jail. At 10:15 a.m., the Complainant was taken to the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre and kept in the emergency department to complete examinations. The next morning, January 22, 2023, at 6:00 a.m., the Complainant went into medical distress and was transferred to a trauma room. At 7:09 a.m., the Complainant was intubated and transferred to the Thunder Bay Hospital. Medical staff did not believe the Complainant would survive.

The cell was later cleaned by a civilian cleaner, and an empty plastic (drug) bag was in a blanket inside the cell.

The Team

Date and time team dispatched: 01/22/2023 at 11:34 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time)

Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 01/22/2023 at 3:34 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time)

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 2

Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):

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

The Complainant was interviewed on January 30, 2023.

Subject Officials

SO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right

Witness Officials

WO Interviewed

The witness official was interviewed on February 23, 2023.


The Scene

The events in question transpired in a cell of the OPP Sioux Lookout Detachment, 62 Queen Street, Sioux Lookout

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence [4]

Video from OPP Sioux Lookout

On January 23, 2023, at 1:43 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time), the OPP provided the SIU pertinent footage of the Complainant’s time in custody. The footage did not contain an audio track.

The Complainant was captured being brought into the Sioux Lookout OPP cells on January 21, 2023, at about 12:44 a.m. The SO searched the Complainant starting at about 12:44 a.m. in the presence of other OPP officers.

Starting at about 12:47 a.m., the handcuffs were removed from the Complainant, and she was asked to remove her winter jacket. The Complainant removed various items of clothing and her runners, which left her wearing grey sweatpants, socks and a black T-shirt. She removed one sock at a time. OPP officers inspected each sock, after which the Complainant put them back on. The Complainant then placed her hands against a wall while the SO did a pat-down search of the Complainant, over her clothing.

At 12:49 a.m., the Complainant was escorted to a cell. Her face could be seen in the video; there was no evidence of injury or redness. The Complainant entered the cell, her back to the overhead camera.

Starting at about 1:19 a.m., the Complainant was taken to a private room for legal consultation.

Starting at about 1:24 a.m., the Complainant exited and was escorted back to her cell.

Starting at about 1:38 a.m., the Complainant was given a blanket and a roll of toilet paper. She laid the roll on the floor between the two concrete raised benches and laid on the floor covered in a blanket. Because of the blanket, it was impossible to see what the Complainant was doing. From time to time, the Complainant put her hands near her mouth, but what she was doing was not evident. The camera angle did not capture the entire cell. Accordingly, it was conceivable that the Complainant removed something from her person and hid it in her blankets or in a corner without being detected. Similarly, the Complainant’s actions could not be completely discerned when she had her back to the camera.

A civilian cell guard sat outside the Complainant’s cell the entire night. The civilian guard also guarded other prisoners held that night. When the Complainant used the toilet, the guard left the area.

Starting at about 7:35 a.m., the Complainant again used the toilet. She sat down and looked at the guard, who rolled his chair back to provide privacy. Once the guard was gone, the Complainant reached towards her groin area with her right hand, leaving it there for a short time, and then stood up.

Starting at about 7:42 a.m., the Complainant looked at the cell camera for an extended period, after which she sat on the floor with a blanket, cross-legged, bent her head down, and cupped her hands to her face.

Materials Obtained from Police Service

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the OPP Sioux Lookout Detachment:
  • Notes of the WO;
  • Cell video; and
  • Images of bags with and without crystal methamphetamine.

Materials Obtained from Other Sources

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the following other sources:
  • The Complainant’s medical records from Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre; and
  • The Complainant’s medical records from Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

Incident Narrative

The evidence collected by the SIU, including an interview with the Complainant and a review of video footage that captured much of her time in custody, gives rise to the following scenario. As was her legal right, the SO chose not to interview with the SIU or authorize the release of her notes.

The Complainant was arrested in Sioux Lookout on January 20, 2023, on the strength of a warrant. In the search of her person that followed, the arresting officer – the SO – located a bag containing crystal methamphetamine. The officer transported the Complainant to the Sioux Lookout Detachment, where she was lodged in a cell at about 12:50 a.m. of the following day.

At her bail hearing later that day, the Complainant appeared unwell, prompting the presiding justice to direct that police ensure she receive medical attention prior to being taken to jail.

The Complainant was subsequently received at the Meno Ya Win Health Centre, Sioux Lookout, where her condition deteriorated.

On January 22, 2023, the Complainant was transported to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and treated for respiratory failure and an altered mental state.

The Complainant was discharged from hospital on January 26, 2023.

Relevant Legislation

Section 215, Criminal Code - Failure to Provide Necessaries

215 (1) Every one is under a legal duty

(c) to provide necessaries of life to a person under his charge if that person
(i) is unable, by reason of detention, age, illness, mental disorder or other cause, to withdraw himself from that charge, and
(ii) is unable to provide himself with necessaries of life.

(2) Every person commits an offence who, being under a legal duty within the meaning of subsection (1), fails without lawful excuse to perform that duty, if
(b) with respect to a duty imposed by paragraph (1)(c), the failure to perform the duty endangers the life of the person to whom the duty is owed or causes or is likely to cause the health of that person to be injured permanently.

Sections 219 and 221, Criminal Code -- Criminal Negligence Causing Bodily Harm

219 (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
(a) in doing anything, or
(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.

(2) For the purposes of this section, duty means a duty imposed by law.

221 Every person who by criminal negligence causes bodily harm to another person is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Analysis and Director's Decision

On January 22, 2023, the OPP contacted the SIU to report that a woman they had arrested two days prior – the Complainant - had lapsed into medical distress while still in the custody of the police. The SIU initiated an investigation and named the arresting officer – the SO – as the subject official. The investigation is now concluded. 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 health issues.

The offences that arise for consideration are failure to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing bodily harm contrary to sections 215 and 221 of the Criminal Code, respectively. Both require something more than a simple want of care to give rise to liability. The former is predicated, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. The latter is premised on even more egregious conduct that demonstrates a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons. It is not made out unless the neglect constitutes a marked and substantial departure from a reasonable standard of care. In the instant case, the question is whether there was any want of care on the part of the SO, sufficiently serious to attract criminal sanction, that endangered the Complainant’s life or caused her bodily harm. In my view, there was not.

There are no questions raised with respect to the lawfulness of the Complainant’s arrest. She was reportedly taken into custody on the strength of an outstanding arrest warrant.

With respect to the care the Complainant was afforded while in police custody, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the SO comported herself without due care and regard for the Complainant’s health and wellbeing. It is of concern that the Complainant was allowed to enter a cell at the Sioux Lookout Detachment with bags of drugs still in her possession. As the evidence suggests, the Complainant was able to retrieve these drugs and consume them in her cell, which appears to have contributed to her medical episode. That said, the SO had searched the Complainant twice – at the scene following the arrest and then back at the detachment prior to her being lodged in a cell – the first time seizing a bag containing an illicit substance. It is not clear that the SO was remiss in the searches she performed. It might well be that the Complainant had the drugs secreted in a bodily orifice. If, in fact, that was the case, it is also not evident that the police had the necessary grounds to conduct a strip search, per the law set out in R v Golden, [2001] 3 SCR 679, much less a more intrusive body cavity search. As for her care while in the detachment cell, though the SO was not responsible for the Complainant during this time, I am satisfied that she was adequately monitored and sent for medical attention within a reasonable time – a civilian guard kept an eye on the Complainant throughout the night of her detention in cells (affording her privacy when she used the toilet), and she was taken to a medical centre promptly after the concerns expressed by the justice at her bail hearing.

In the result, as there are no reasonable grounds to believe the subject official transgressed the limits of care in her dealings with the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case. The file is closed.

Date: May 19, 2023

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Special Investigations Unit


  • 1) The information in this section reflects the information received by the SIU at the time of notification and does not necessarily reflect the SIU’s finding of facts following its investigation. [Back to text]
  • 2) Unless otherwise notes, times are denoted in Central Standard Time. [Back to text]
  • 3) Weekends and Statutory Holidays court. [Back to text]
  • 4) 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.