SIU Director’s Report - Case # 23-OCD-261
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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 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.
- 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 24-year-old woman (Complainant #1) and serious injuries to a 29-year-old man (Complainant #2).
Notification of the SIU On July 8, 2023, at 12:15 a.m., the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) notified the SIU of the death of Complainant #1.
According to the HRPS, on July 7, 2023, at 9:35 p.m., police officers responded to a gun call at an apartment on Ghent Avenue, Burlington. When police officers arrived, they knocked at the door but there was no response. Shortly thereafter, HRPS received a call from an apartment multiple stories below reporting that a body had landed on their balcony. A police officer attended, and immediately began CPR on a woman – Complainant #1. While CPR was being administered, a second body – Complainant #2 – landed next to the police officer on the balcony. Complainant #1 was pronounced deceased. Complainant #2 was taken to Hamilton General Hospital for treatment.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 2023/07/08 at 1:20 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 2023/07/08 at 2:41 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2
Affected Persona (aka “Complainants”):Complainant #1 24-year-old female; deceased
Complainant #2 29-year-old male; not interviewed due to medical condition
Civilian Witnesses (CW)CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed between July 8, 2023, and July 18, 2023.
Subject Officials (SO)SO #1 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
SO #2 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed on July 8, 2023.
The Scene The events in question transpired on and around the apartments and balconies of a building on Ghent Avenue, Burlington.
Upper Floor ApartmentUpon arrival of the SIU, there was black tape covering the peephole of the upper floor apartment. The entry door was damaged - it appeared that police had forced the door open with a battering ram. There were marks to the door in several locations, indicating several strikes with the battering ram were required before the door gave way. The latch bolt and the chain lock had both broken away from the door.
A small balcony was off the corner of the living room. The balcony was accessed through a small sliding door.
The balcony was approximately 3 metres wide and 2.5 metres deep. The metal railing was approximately 1 metre high. There were six grooves or indents on the outer balcony wall that could allow for a very tenuous hand or foot hold. From the top of the railing to the rooftop patio of an apartment below was approximately 10.5 metres.
Lower Floor ApartmentThe balcony measured 8.5 metres wide and 5.6 metres deep. The body of Complainant #1 was covered with a blanket. When the blanket was removed, Complainant #1 was seen laying on her back with apparent injuries. Scattered around the body was medical equipment and personal effects, including a purse. In the purse were small plastic bags, one of which was full of white pills.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence 
Computer-aided Dispatch (CAD) ReportThere were two CAD reports. One was for an ‘offensive weapons’ call, and the other for an ‘ambulance’ call. The offensive weapons CAD originated from a phone call at about 9:03:26 p.m., July 23, 2023. The ambulance CAD originated on July 23, 2023, at 10:10:24 p.m., from a caller reporting that a person had fallen from the building to her balcony.
Offensive Weapons Call
At 9:03:26 p.m., a caller reported to police that a man had entered and threatened them with guns. The caller ran out of the building having seen a “9 mm gun on him”. The caller reported there were knives in the apartment, but no guns. There were also illicit substances in the apartment.
At 9:37:30 p.m., the caller reported to the police officers that the man with the handgun had “flashed his handgun that was tucked in his waistband”.
At 9:39:28 p.m., the HRPS Tactical Rescue Unit (TRU) was headed inside the building. The apartment was noted as that of Complainant #1 and Complainant #2.
At 9:48:16 p.m., TRU made several call-outs, and only heard dogs from inside the apartment.
At 10:04:45 p.m., TRU continued with more call-outs.
At 10:16:43 p.m., the door of the apartment was breached. Police officers did door knocks on two apartments on lower floors and cleared them safe.
At 10:31:34 p.m., a casualty was reported on a lower floor.
At 10:31:50 p.m., a man [later known to be Complainant #2] was transported to hospital.
Life-saving measures were immediately begun by the caller, who had called for an ambulance. As soon as police officers entered, life-saving measures were taken over by them at 10:16:08 p.m.
Video Footage – Lobby - Ghent Avenue, BurlingtonStarting at about 9:35 p.m., TRU officers arrived in the lobby of the apartment building.
Starting at about 10:09 p.m., Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrived in the lobby.
Starting at about 10:22 p.m., additional EMS units arrived in the lobby.
Starting at about 10:35 p.m., Complainant #2 was transported away from the apartment building by EMS.
Materials Obtained from Police Service The SIU obtained the following records from the HRPS between July 10, 2023, and October 26, 2023:
- CAD report;
- Involved Officers list;
- List of Civilian Witnesses;
- Occurrence Report;
- Fingerprints - Complainant #1;
- Notes – WO #1;
- Notes – WO #3;
- Notes – WO #2;
- Communications recordings;
- Policy – Use of Force;
- Policy – Preliminary Perimeter Control and Containment; and
- Policy – Preventing or Responding to Occurrences involving Firearms.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained video footage on July 21, 2023, from Ghent Avenue, Burlington.
In the evening of July 7, 2023, Complainant #1 was in her apartment on Ghent Avenue, Burlington, when HRPS officers began banging on her door. In the apartment with her were her boyfriend – Complainant #2 – and three other acquaintances – CW #1, CW #2 and CW #3. The police had received a call from someone who had left the gathering in the apartment when one of the males had purportedly brandished a handgun.
The officers outside the apartment door were with the HRPS TRU. As the matter involved a firearm, the team had been mobilized to investigate the call for service. Led by WO #3, the TRU plan was to establish a presence outside the door of the apartment, after which the occupants of the residence would be directed to step outside without any weapons and with their hands in the air. The door-knocks and call-outs began at about 9:50 p.m.
With the presence of officers outside her front door, Complainant #1 panicked and ultimately made her way onto the balcony. It appears her intention was to climb down to the balcony below in order to avoid police apprehension.
At about 10:12 p.m., the TRU officers left their positions outside the door of the apartment and rushed to an apartment multiple stories below. They had been made aware of a call to police from a resident indicating that a female had fallen onto their balcony and was in medical distress. Officers entered the apartment with an occupant’s consent. They found the 911 caller administering emergency first-aid to the woman. The woman was Complainant #1. SO #1 would also provide care, performing CPR for a period. Complainant #1 would ultimately be pronounced deceased at the scene.
At about 10:16 p.m., as care was being provided to Complainant #1, a second body – Complainant #2 – landed on the balcony. TRU officers had returned to the upper-floor apartment at the time and were forcing the door open when Complainant #2 fell. He too appears to have attempted to climb down to the balcony below.
Complainant #2 was transported to hospital where he was diagnosed and treated for serious injuries, including a brain injury.
Cause of DeathThe pathologist at autopsy was of the preliminary view that Complainant #1’s death was attributable to blunt force trauma.
Section 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.
Section 221, Criminal Code -- Criminal Negligence Causing Bodily Harm221 Every one who by criminal negligence causes bodily harm to another person is guilty of
Analysis and Director's Decision
The offences that arise for consideration are criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm, contrary to sections 220 and 221 of the Criminal Code, respectively. The offences are reserved for serious cases of neglect that demonstrate a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons. They are predicated, in part, on conduct that amounts 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 on the part of the subject officials, sufficiently egregious to attract criminal sanction, that caused or contributed to Complainant #1’s death and Complainant #2’s injuries. In my view, there was not.
The officers who took part in the operations culminating in Complainant #1’s death and Complainant #2’s injuries were lawfully placed throughout the engagement. Having received a call about an individual being threatened at a gathering by a person with a gun, the police acted reasonably in deploying TRU officers at the scene. The TRU were trained, and had the resources, to deal with calls for service involving firearms.
I am also satisfied that the subject officials and the rest of the TRU officers comported themselves with due care and regard for public safety, including the safety of Complainant #1 and Complainant #2. Though it appears to have been the catalyst for Complainant #1’s decision to scale her balcony, the tactic adopted by the TRU – banging on the door and ordering an immediate and orderly exit of the apartment’s occupants so the 911 call could be safely investigated – seems reasonable in the circumstances given the dangers inherent in a gun call. The decision to force the door of the apartment open was also reasonable, even though it too appears to have precipitated Complainant #2’s decision to attempt an escape via the balcony. By that time, the officers realized that Complainant #1 had fallen from her balcony, though they could not be sure whether she had been pushed, jumped in an act of self-harm, or accidentally fallen. In the circumstances, it was imperative that officers make entry in the apartment to ensure public safety, particularly as someone had been observed peering over the balcony as care was being provided to Complainant #1. Lastly, in respect of both casualties, there is nothing in the evidence to indicate that the officers failed to act with dispatch in providing first-aid and arranging for emergency medical care.
For the foregoing reasons, I am not persuaded that either subject official transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law throughout their involvement in this matter. As such, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case. The file is closed.
Date: November 3, 2023
Electronically approved by
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) 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.