SIU Director’s Report - Case # 23-OCD-264
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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 26-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIU On July 10, 2023, at 6:30 p.m., the York Regional Police (YRP) contacted the SIU with the following information.
On July 10, 2023, at 10:00 a.m., a male and female became involved in a domestic dispute at Portage Parkway, Vaughan, an apartment which they shared. The female had arrived at the apartment to show it to potential buyers with the male inside, who was drinking alcohol with friends. They became involved in a struggle. The male went to the balcony and began to hang over the railing. The female attempted to hold onto his arms but, at some point, he fell down to a balcony below. A 911 call was made to the YRP, and several police units responded, including the Emergency Response Unit (ERU). Police officers negotiated with the male, and it appeared he was going to come inside the apartment. Eventually, police officers attempted to grab the man, but he was able to shake off their grasps and jumped from the balcony. The man died on impact with the ground below.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 2023/07/10 at 7:30 p.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 2023/07/10 at 9:45 p.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 0
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):26-year-old male; deceased
Civilian Witnesses (CW)CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed on July 10, 2023, and July 18, 2023.
Subject Officials (SO)SO #1 Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
SO #2 Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
The subject officials were interviewed on July 21, 2023.
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed on July 18, 2023, and July 20, 2023.
The Scene The events in question transpired in and around an apartment in a high-rise building, and its balcony, at an address on Portage Parkway, Vaughan.
The apartment was a one-bedroom unit. It contained a short hallway, with a bathroom off the hallway. A ballistic shield and two ARWENs were on the floor of the bathroom. Several yellow ‘sticky notes’ were on the wall. They appeared to be notes written by the assigned negotiator.
The balcony was measured and found to be 1.5 X 6.1 metres with a 1.09-metre railing. There was a plastic chair next to the railing across from the open sliding glass door. A small round table was immediately to the north (right) of the door.
A unit multiple floors above the apartment had been fitted with rappel gear by members of YRP ERU.
The Complainant fell several floors, landing on an outdoor patio area. Above the east side of the patio area were aluminum panels parallel to the ground. One of these panels had been broken and was hanging by its north side edge. There was red staining on the panel. The Complainant laid beneath the hanging panel. He was beside a garden area that was bordered by a short concrete wall. The Complainant had suffered obvious major trauma.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence 
Police Communications RecordingsStarting at about 9:40 a.m., CW #1 called 911. She had arrived home with the intent to show her apartment to a realtor. When she went inside, she was confronted by the Complainant, who refused to leave. Both CW #1 and the Complainant argued in the background while on the phone with the 911 operator. CW #1 was in a relationship with the Complainant, but they had broken up a month ago. The Complainant made threats to jump off the balcony. He put his leg over the railing and attempted to jump. CW #1 was able to grab him, which caused the Complainant to fall onto a balcony below. The Complainant had made threats of suicide in the past.
Starting at about 9:56 a.m., several police units arrived on scene. A sergeant directed police officers to have a visual maintained of the Complainant, and to ensure CW #1 was safe.
Starting at about 10:35:44 a.m., the sergeant started negotiations with the Complainant from the apartment. At the same time, YRP ERU arrived on scene.
Starting at about 10:42 a.m., ERU officers invoked an emergency protocol within the YRP.
Starting at about 10:55 a.m., Incident Command was established, and negotiations continued with the Complainant.
Starting at about 4:47 p.m., the Complainant indicated he would consider going to the hospital if his brother met him there.
At about 4:58 p.m., the Complainant jumped off the balcony.
At about 4:59 p.m., EMS advised the Complainant was deceased.
Police NegotiationsOn July 10, 2023, YRP engaged in negotiations with the Complainant. The audio recording of those talks was over three hours in length.
The Complainant stated that he loved his daughter. He indicated that he had been feeling bad for a long time but found happiness with his daughter. Attempts were made to have the Complainant come into the apartment so that police could put him in contact with his wife and daughter. The Complainant believed that the police had lied to him and feared he would be arrested.
During the conversation, the Complainant was provided cigarettes and water, but he remained on the balcony. He refused to step into the apartment. The Complainant wanted to make phone calls to his family. The Complainant was told that if he came back into the apartment, he could call his daughter.
The Complainant feared that he would be put down to the ground, handcuffed, placed in a police vehicle, and sent to jail, and he was not going to deal with that. The Complainant was assured that he was not being lied to, and that he would not be charged; he would be sent to the hospital.
The general theme involving the relationship between the Complainant and his daughter, and the need for a safe resolution, continued throughout the talks. The Complainant provided information about his past. The Complainant was hesitant about the hospital and potential treatment. The Complainant spoke of his relationship circumstances.
The negotiators continued to try and coax the Complainant into the apartment to get help, and assured him he would not be charged. They advised him that he could be handcuffed in the front and would be provided a jacket to cover his hands and walked to the ambulance. When asked if he was considering suicide, the Complainant stated that he did not trust himself. He refused to come into the apartment. The Complainant was reminded of his family and how he had fallen onto the balcony and that this was a sign he should get help. It was suggested that arrangements could be made to have family attend the hospital and meet the Complainant there.
The Complainant asked for water. Running water could be heard. A water bottle was rolled towards the Complainant but did not make it to the patio door. The Complainant asked the negotiators to step back as he entered to grab the bottle. The audio went muffled and the sound of running could be heard. Voices could be heard in the background stating in disbelief that the Complainant had jumped. Heavy breathing and sobbing could be heard. One voice stated that he gave every piece of his heart to save the Complainant but knew he planned on jumping.
Video Footage - Portage ParkwayA body [the Complainant] was observed collapsing through a metal grate located on the ceiling of the patio overhang and landing beside a table.
Starting at about 4:58 p.m., two paramedics and two YRP officers entered the patio and headed in the direction of the body. The paramedics did not provide medical assistance. They placed a white sheet over the body.
Video Footage - YRP DroneThe Complainant was observed seated on the balcony, smoking a cigarette. At one point, the Complainant was observed talking to negotiators partially in the background. At another, the Complainant looked over the railing. He also sat on the railing and had his feet on a white chair while smoking and speaking to the negotiators.
The Complainant stood up and hesitantly entered the apartment. The Complainant then turned, ran out of the apartment, and jumped over the railing. He was followed by SO #2 and WO #1 of the ERU. SO #2 had reached out to grab the Complainant but could not catch him before he jumped over the railing. SO #2 draped his body over the railing and then fell to his knees. He then crawled backed into the apartment.
Materials Obtained from Police Service The SIU obtained the following records from the YRP on July 13, 2023:
- YRP negotiation recordings;
- YRP communications recordings;
- YRP body-worn camera footage;
- RPAS [Remotely Piloted Aircraft System] video footage;
- Record of computer-assisted dispatch;
- Occurrence Report;
- Statement Summary – CW #1;
- Notes – WO #1;
- Notes – WO #2; and
- Notes – WO #3.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained the following records from the following other sources between July 10 and 13, 2023:
- Video footage from a civilian;
- Photos and video footage from CW #2; and
- Video footage from Portage Parkway.
In the morning of July 10, 2023, YRP officers were dispatched to a condominium building on Portage Parkway, Vaughan. CW #1 had called to report a disturbance involving her estranged boyfriend, the Complainant. The Complainant had refused to leave the residence at her request and subsequently fell from her balcony to the balcony of the unit below her unit. According to CW #1, the Complainant had threatened suicide in the past.
Officers began arriving on scene shortly before 10:00 a.m. Some made their way to CW #1’s apartment to ensure her safety. Others went to the apartment where they encountered the Complainant on the balcony. The Complainant cautioned officers that he would jump, and the officers maintained their distance within the unit so as not to provoke him. What followed was an hours-long standoff during which police negotiators attempted to coax the Complainant off the balcony.
Members of the YRP ERU were also dispatched to the scene, including SO #1 and SO #2. As negotiations continued with the Complainant, a plan took shape in which ERU officers, secreted in and around the unit, would rush towards the Complainant to take physical hold of him in the event he crossed an ‘action line’, that is, an imaginary line several metres into the unit from the balcony.
At about 4:58 p.m., SO #1 gave the order to apprehend the Complainant. The officer had been maintaining a visual on the Complainant via a camera feed to a video monitor in his possession and had observed the Complainant enter the apartment past the ‘action line’ to retrieve a water bottle that had been tossed in his direction. With SO #2 in the lead, a line of ERU officers ran towards the Complainant. The Complainant quickly ascertained what was happening, turned and ran towards the balcony railing, and leapt over it. SO #2 was within a metre of the Complainant at the time.
The Complainant landed on the outdoor patio area of a lower floor of the building and died on impact.
Cause of DeathThe pathologist at autopsy was of the preliminary view that the Complainant’s death was attributable 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. It is 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 the Complainant’s death. In my view, there was not.
It would appear that the police operations that unfolded at the scene were conducted with due care and regard for the Complainant’s health and safety. A police officer’s foremost obligation is the protection and preservation of life. Having been advised of his threat to jump from the balcony, the officers were duty bound to do what they reasonably could to prevent harm coming to the Complainant. Trained negotiators engaged the Complainant from a distance and encouraged him to step away from the balcony. They had at their disposal a mental health professional who was also present at the scene. Food and cigarettes were provided to the Complainant at his request. Aware that the Complainant was fearful of being arrested and incarcerated, the police assured him that that would not happen; they would simply take him to hospital so that he could get the help he needed. The Complainant’s lawyer was also brought to the scene, and he too delivered the same message. The Complainant asked to speak to his brother, but that request was denied as he had intimated that he would be saying his final goodbye – a not unreasonable decision. The plan that was agreed around the ‘action line’ is subject to scrutiny. There was always the danger that a proactive posture of the sort could backfire, as happened in this case. On the other hand, not seizing an opportunity when it presented itself was not without its own risks. Negotiations had been ongoing for hours with the Complainant on the balcony with no guarantee that he would not, at any moment, jump without any chance of police interdiction. In the circumstances, a degree of deference must be accorded the decisions of the police made on the ground in real time.
In the result, as there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any police officer transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law in their dealings with the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case. The file is closed.
Date: November 7, 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.