SIU Director’s Report - Case # 23-TCI-277
This page contains graphic content that can shock, offend and upset.
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 serious injury of a 15-year-old youth (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIU On July 20, 2023, at approximately 2:27 a.m., the TPS contacted the SIU with the following information.
On July 19, 2023, at approximately 8:57 p.m., several youths that resided in an apartment building located near Jane Street and Finch Avenue West were reported to have been drinking in the stairwell. A resident requested the youths quiet down, which prompted one of the youths [later known to be the Complainant] to retreat to his apartment where he retrieved a machete. The Complainant then appeared to have mistakenly attended at another resident’s apartment where he began slashing the entry door to the unit. Police were contacted at 8:58 p.m. and responded. An arrest was made at 9:06 p.m., and a struggle ensued. As a result, empty-hand techniques were used to restrain the Complainant, who received an injury to his face. The Complainant was transported to Humber River Regional Hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured jaw and admitted awaiting surgery.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 7/20/2023 at 7:58 a.m.
Date and time SIU responded: 7/20/2023 at 8:00 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 0
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):15-year-old male; interviewed; medical records obtained and reviewed
The Complainant was interviewed on July 24, 2023.
Civilian Witnesses (CW)CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed on September 14, 2023.
Subject Officials (SO)SO Declined interview, as is the subject official’s legal right; notes received and reviewed
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed on July 26, 2023, and August 24, 2023.
The Scene The events in question transpired in the hallway outside a unit in an apartment building located near Jane Street and Finch Avenue West, Toronto.
The hallway was about 1.2 metres wide and about 27.4 metres long. The eastern end of the hallway had an exit to a stairway. The western end of the hallway had an exit on the southwest corner that led to a stairway. The hallway was carpeted.
The Complainant had accessed the floor from the southwest corner of the hallway.
The unit the Complainant had attended with a knife was located at the east end of the hallway.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence 
Hallway Video FootageStarting at about 8:45 p.m., on July 19, 2023, the camera captured the Complainant walking down the hallway. He had friends with him walking behind. The Complainant held a kitchen knife in his right hand. The Complainant reached the front of an apartment at the end of the hallway and began to bang and kick at the door. His friends approached and appeared to attempt to speak to the Complainant and get him to stop but he continued. After a while, the friends retreated. The Complainant continued to kick at the door with his foot. At times, the Complainant stabbed at or slashed the door with the knife. He was erratic and appeared agitated and upset. His friends stood far back from him and continued to watch. They appeared helpless and unable to do anything to stop the Complainant. He continued to kick and slash the door. The friends continued to watch him from a distance.
Starting at about 9:04 p.m., WO #2, WO #3, the SO and WO #1 arrived in the hallway. WO #2 and WO #3 each carried a less-lethal shotgun. The SO had his handgun drawn, and WO #1 carried a rifle. The police officers walked past the Complainant’s two male friends, who had their hands raised up, and went towards the Complainant. They stopped a short distance away from the Complainant and appeared to be speaking with him. The SO transitioned to his CEW, crouching down on one knee between WO #3 on the right side, and WO #2 on the left. WO #1 was positioned behind them. They all continued to point their weapons at the Complainant. Two additional officers arrived and took control of the Complainant’s two friends.
Starting at about 9:05 p.m., the Complainant dropped the knife on the floor. He briefly raised up his hands to surrender, and then put them down in front of his body. There was a brief communication between WO #2 and the Complainant. WO #2 set his shotgun aside, stepped towards the Complainant, and grabbed him by the arms to control him. WO #3, the SO and WO #1 quickly joined WO #2, and the four police officers took the Complainant to the ground. WO #2 was on the right side of the Complainant, and the SO was on the upper left side of him. WO #3 and WO #1 were positioned to the rear of WO #2 and the SO. Immediately after the Complainant hit the ground, the SO delivered three blows with his right fist, followed seconds later by three additional blows to the left side of the Complainant’s face and jaw. The officer then grabbed the Complainant by the hair and lifted his head up as another officer brought the Complainant’s right hand out from underneath the Complainant’s head and behind his back. The four police officers held the Complainant to the ground, and he was handcuffed.
Starting at about 9:05 p.m., the SO appeared to speak on his radio while kneeling on the Complainant’s shoulders. WO #2 got up and began to speak with the occupants of the apartment, who had now opened their door.
Starting at about 9:06 p.m., the SO disengaged from the Complainant and joined WO #2 inside the apartment. The Complainant was prone on the ground.
Starting at about 9:15 p.m., WO #4 arrived and saw the Complainant, who had his hands handcuffed behind his back and was face down on the floor. WO #4 spoke briefly with the police officers.
Starting at about 9:16 p.m., WO #3 and WO #1 stood the Complainant on his feet. They led him away and out of the view of the camera.
Body-worn Camera FootageThe SO
Starting at about 9:02 p.m., the video commenced with the SO and WO #2 ascending the stairwell from the lobby to a floor, where they met with WO #3 and WO #1. The SO carried his handgun in his right hand. The four police officers took the stairs to the floor where the Complainant was located.
Starting at about 9:01 p.m., the video commenced with WO #2 walking to the front doors of the apartment building. WO #2 and the SO ascended the stairs to a floor where they met with WO #3 and WO #1. The four police officers took the stairwell to the floor where the Complainant was located.
Starting at about 9:01 p.m., WO #1 entered the apartment building with WO #3. WO #1 and WO #3 took the stairs to a floor where they met with the SO and WO #2. WO #2, the SO, WO #3 and WO #1 took the stairs to the floor where the Complainant was located. WO #1 carried his C8 rifle over his right shoulder.
Starting at about 9:00 p.m., WO #3 entered the front doors of the apartment building with WO #1. WO #3 and WO #1 tried to access the elevator, but it did not work. They took the stairwell to a floor, where they met with WO #2 and the SO. WO #3 carried his less-lethal shotgun.
Cumulative BWC Footage – The SO, WO #2, WO #1 and WO #3
Starting at about 9:04 p.m., WO #2 and the SO exited the stairwell, saw an unknown man, and walked past him. WO #1 and WO #3 saw the same man and ordered him to put his hands in the air. They moved past this man, and followed WO #2 and the SO down the hallway.
The Complainant was outside the door of an apartment near the end of the hall. He had a knife in his right hand. WO #2 and the SO walked two abreast, and WO #1 and WO #3 walked directly behind them. The four constables yelled to the Complainant to drop the knife.
The SO transitioned to his CEW and directed WO #2 and WO #4 to “press up”.
Starting at about 9:05 p.m., the Complainant had several lasers pointed at him by the various police weapons. The police officers continued to yell at him to dop the knife. He dropped the knife and it fell to his feet. He took a step backwards away from the door of the apartment. WO #2 neared the Complainant and, with his left hand, grabbed hold of the right shoulder and forced him into a wall. The SO, WO #3 and WO #1 moved in to control the Complainant and took him to the ground.
Starting at about 9:05 p.m., the Complainant landed on the carpeted floor on his right side. His left wrist was handcuffed, and his right arm was under his torso. WO #1 stood by to the right side of the Complainant’s upper torso. WO #3 stood to the right side of the Complainant and took control of his right foot, pulling it backwards. WO #2 stood and straddled the Complainant’s waist area. The SO was at the left upper side of the Complainant kneeling over his upper left torso. He had his right knee over the neck, while his right fist was pressed into the back. The SO punched the Complainant three times to the top of his head and face, on the left side. The SO then disengaged for approximately three seconds, after which he struck the Complainant again three times on the left side of his head and face. WO #2 stood up and stepped back.
Starting at about 9:06 p.m., the SO grabbed the Complainant by the hair with his right hand and pulled his head backwards off the floor. With his right hand, an officer pulled the right hand from under the Complainant’s body, after which he was handcuffed with his hands behind his back by WO #1 and WO #3.
Starting at about 9:07 p.m., the Complainant was rolled onto his right side and blood was seen coming from the left side of his jaw and cheek area. He asked why WO #3 and WO #1 punched him in the face. The SO stated it was he who punched him because he resisted arrest. The SO told him he was arrested for ‘assault with a weapon’ and ‘mischief’. The Complainant’s face was turned to the right towards WO #1. The SO continued to yell, “Shut the fuck up.” The Complainant remained on the ground as WO #3 and WO #1 stood over him. They controlled his movements on the ground. The SO looked to the Complainant and stated, “We know you.”
Starting at about 9:15 p.m., WO #4 walked down the hall to where the Complainant laid on the ground. The Complainant was asked if he could walk, and he said, “Yes.” He was brought to his feet by WO #3 and WO #1, and then walked to the elevator.
Starting at about 9:18 p.m., the elevator opened, and the Complainant was escorted in.
The Complainant was subsequently walked out the elevator door, and to the front of the building where he was asked to sit on the curb. Civilians saw him with his mouth bleeding. He stated he had dropped the knife when asked, and the police "boxed" him. The crowd became vocal and yelled at WO #3 and WO #1.
Starting at about 9:40 p.m., WO #3 moved the Complainant into the ambulance. WO #1 returned to his police car and followed the ambulance to hospital.
Police Communications RecordingsStarting at about 8:13 p.m., a caller contacted TPS 911 and asked for police officers to attend an apartment building near Jane Street and Finch Avenue West. Five to six teenagers were outside her apartment in the hallway kicking at her door. She had gone out into the hallway prior due to noise and had asked them to keep it down. The call-taker told her she would have police officers there as soon as possible.
Starting at about 8:59 p.m., a police call-taker returned a call that had come in from another apartment. The caller confirmed a man had been banging on her door for the last ten minutes. She did not know who he was, and was holding the door so he did not come in. He had a weapon. The call-taker stated that police officers were on their way. He asked for a description, but she could not give one and said she was holding the door so he would not break through.
Starting at about 9:01 p.m., a police call-taker called the woman back and asked, “What does he look like?” She responded that she could not see if he had a weapon and could not see through the peep hole. She was holding the door. Background noise of someone banging on the door could be heard.
Materials Obtained from Police Service The SIU obtained the following records from TPS between July 21, 2023, and September 18, 2023:
- Event Chronology;
- General Report;
- Communications recordings;
- BWC footage;
- Record of computer-assisted dispatch;
- Involved Officers List;
- Notes – the SO;
- Notes – WO #1;
- Notes – WO #2;
- Notes – WO #3;
- Notes – WO #4;
- TPS Procedure - Medical Emergencies;
- TPS Procedure - Incident Response; and
- TPS Procedure - Persons in Custody.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained the following records from the following other sources.
- Video footage from the apartment building; and
- The Complainant’s medical records from Humber River Regional Hospital, received August 16, 2023.
In the evening of July 19, 2023, TPS officers were dispatched to an apartment building near Jane Street and Finch Avenue West, Toronto. A resident had called 911 to report that a male had been banging on her door for the past ten minutes attempting to break in. She had been holding the door shut to prevent the male from entering.
The male was the Complainant. While in the building stairwell earlier that evening, the Complainant and friends of his had been approached by another tenant of the building to complain about their behaviour. They had been drinking and causing a disturbance. The Complainant did not take kindly to the rebuke. The Complainant returned to his apartment and retrieved a knife, determined to confront the individual. With two of his friends in tow, the Complainant arrived at the front of an apartment, where he mistakenly believed the individual lived, and started banging and kicking at the door, intermittently slashing and stabbing it with the knife. His friends tried unsuccessfully to have him stop.
The SO, in the company of his partner, WO #2, and two other officers, WO #3 and WO #1, arrived at the address and made their way to the floor where the Complainant was located via a stairwell. The SO initially had his pistol at the ready, but then transitioned to a CEW. WO #2, WO #3 and WO #1 had a less-lethal shotgun, less-lethal shotgun, and a rifle out, respectively. The officers turned a corner and observed the Complainant at the far end of the corridor by the door of an apartment. He had a knife in his right hand. With their weapons pointed at the Complainant, the officers walked in his direction, repeatedly ordering him to drop the knife. The Complainant refused, instead telling the officers to back up and drop their weapons. The back and forth continued for several seconds before the Complainant dropped the knife by his feet. The Complainant stepped back when directed to do so, but refused to move to the wall across the hall at the officers’ request. WO #2 moved in, grabbed the Complainant, and moved him to the wall. The SO took hold of the Complainant and assisted in grounding him.
The Complainant fell on his right side and was quickly met by a series of three right-handed punches to the left side of the head by the SO. At about the same time, WO #2, while straddling over the Complainant’s exposed left side, delivered several punches to his torso. Two to three seconds after his first volley of blows, the SO delivered another series of three punches to the Complainant’s head. Shortly thereafter, the officers brought the Complainant’s arms behind the back and secured them in handcuffs.
Following his arrest, the Complainant was transported to hospital and diagnosed with fractures of the jaw.
Section 25(1), Criminal Code -- Protection of Persons Acting Under Authority
(a) as a private person,(b) as a peace officer or public officer,(c) in aid of a peace officer or public officer, or(d) by virtue of his office,
Section 88(1), Criminal Code -- Possession of Weapon for Dangerous Purpose88 (1) Every person commits an offence who carries or possesses a weapon, an imitation of a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition for a purpose dangerous to the public peace or for the purpose of committing an offence.
Analysis and Director's Decision
Pursuant to section 25(1) of the Criminal Code, police officers are immune from criminal liability for force used in the course of their duties provided such force was reasonably necessary in the execution of an act that they were required or authorized to do by law.
The Complainant had armed himself with a knife and attempted to break into an apartment. He was clearly subject to arrest for a variety of offences, including ‘weapons dangerous’ contrary to section 88(1) of the Criminal Code.
The force used by the SO as the Complainant was being arrested is subject to legitimate scrutiny. I am inclined to believe that the first three punches he struck fell within the range of what was reasonable in the circumstances. The Complainant had over a protracted period wielded a knife in his efforts to break into an apartment. Confronted by police, the Complainant had proven defiant. He initially demanded that the officers drop their guns and step back, and then refused to move away from the knife after he had dropped it. His belligerence continued as he was initially grabbed by WO #2 and then brought to the floor; he screamed and refused to relax his left arm so that it could be moved behind his back. On this record, I am satisfied that the SO was probably within his rights when he punched the Complainant the first three times. The officer would have had cause to be concerned that the Complainant might still be armed, raising the need to ensure that he be immediately deterred by physical force and take into custody.
The justification of punches four through six is not as easily discerned. There were four officers around the Complainant at the time, each of whom were engaged with him in one way or another. Strictly speaking, I do not think it was objectively necessary to strike those additional blows. That said, the justification set out in section 25(1) is not automatically negated where an officer is wrong in the necessity of their force. An officer may have an honest mistake about the facts, leading them to believe there is a need to use force of one type or another, as long as the mistake is one which a reasonable person might have made in the circumstances. The SO said in his notes that he believed the Complainant was resisting and refusing to release an arm, which he perceived as being pinned against his chest, when he decided to deliver three more punches. He did so, he says, with the intention of subduing the Complainant – “to soften [his] pinned hand” – so that he might be handcuffed. In fact, the Complainant’s left arm was folded by his chest at the time, only brought behind his back after the SO’s punches. Given the tension of the moment, and the speed with which events unfolded, this piece of evidence leads me to conclude that the SO’s mistake was reasonable in the circumstances, and that his resultant force thereby fell within the limits of the justification set out in section 25(1). In all of this, I am also mindful that an officer caught up in volatile situations is not expected to measure their responsive force with precision; what is required is a reasonable response, not necessarily an exacting one: R v Nasogaluak,  1 SCR 206; R v Baxter (1975), 27 CCC (2d) 96 (Ont. CA).
In the result, while I accept that one or more of the punches struck by the SO is responsible for the Complainant’s injuries, I am unable to conclude with any confidence that the officer comported himself other than within the limits of the criminal law throughout their engagement.  As such, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case. The file is closed.
Date: November 17, 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]
- 3) I am satisfied that WO #2’s punches were legally justified for essentially the same reasons. [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.