SIU Director’s Report - Case # 23-OCD-375
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 death of a 41-year-old man.
Notification of the SIU On September 12, 2023, at 7:35 a.m., the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) contacted the SIU with the following information.
On September 12, 2023, at approximately 5:30 a.m., the OPS responded to an ‘unwanted party’ call at an apartment building located on McEwen Avenue in Ottawa. Civilian Witness (CW) #1 was reporting that an unknown naked male was in the laundry room. Responding officers located the male, sensed he was exhibiting symptoms of excited delirium, and requested Emergency Medical Services (EMS). While waiting for EMS to arrive, the officers engaged in conversation with the male,  who was calm and cooperative. When EMS arrived, the male was cuffed and walked through the front lobby towards the ambulance parked out front. While in the lobby, the male became limp, collapsed, and went vital signs absent (VSA). Paramedics immediately commenced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and rushed the male to the Queensway-Carleton Hospital (QCH) where he was pronounced deceased shortly after arrival.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 09/12/2023 at 8:00 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 09/12/2023 at 1:00 p.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):41-year-old male; deceased
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed between September 26, 2023, and November 9,
Subject Official (SO)SO Interviewed; notes received and reviewed
The subject official was interviewed on October 23, 2023.
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed; notes received and reviewed
WO #2 Interviewed; notes received and reviewed
The witness officials were interviewed between September 18, 2023, and October 23, 2023.
The Scene The events in questions transpired in the stairwell of an apartment building on McEwen Avenue in Ottawa.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence 
Video Footage - Basement Hallway of the Apartment BuildingThe SIU obtained a segment of video footage from the apartment building on McEwen Avenue. The footage depicted the activities of the Complainant in the early morning hours of September 12, 2023. The time stamp on the footage commenced at 00:00:00 hrs, which did not reflect the actual time of the events.
Starting at about video time stamp 0021:34 hrs, the Complainant appeared in the footage as he exited the elevator in the basement level of the building. He was alone and fully dressed. He carried a knapsack. There were no other persons in the basement while the Complainant roamed the hallway. The camera was positioned to view the basement hallway and stairwell door of the building. The laundry room was situated in the same hallway.
Starting at about video time stamp 0045:35 hrs, the Complainant removed his shorts and then continuously wandered the hallway of the basement level, naked.
Starting at about video time stamp 0046:38 hrs, the Complainant put his shorts back on.
Starting at about video time stamp 0051:28 hrs, the Complainant walked out of camera view.
The Complainant appeared disoriented as he wandered back and forth in the basement hallway.
Starting at about video time stamp 0115:23 hrs, CW #1 exited the elevator and walked to the laundry room to unlock it. CW #1 noticed a knapsack and running shoes on the floor. He then walked to a stairwell door and exited the hallway into the underground garage.
Starting at about video time stamp 0153:40 hrs, a police officer, believed to be WO #2, exited the elevator. WO #2 retrieved the Complainant’s knapsack from the hallway floor and exited out of view towards the stairwell.
Starting at about video time stamp 0155:05 hrs, a police officer, possibly the SO, exited the elevator and walked towards the stairwell exit.
OPS Communications RecordingsIn the morning of September 12, 2023, CW #1 contacted 911 to report the presence of a non-resident naked male in the basement level. CW #1 advised that he would await the arrival of the police. The call-taker indicated that the police were nearby.
The SO was captured advising dispatch that the male was definitely on something, and exhibited the symptoms of excited delirium.
WO #1 and the SO requested an update on the arrival of paramedics and asked that their arrival be expedited.
WO #2 broadcast that the male was VSA and CPR was in progress.
Materials Obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU obtained the following records from the OPS between September 12 and 19, 2023:
- Scene photographs;
- Communications recordings;
- Preliminary Police Reports;
- Emails regarding the Complainant’s property;
- Computer-assisted dispatch report;
- Notes – the SO;
- Notes – WO #1;
- Notes – WO #2;
- Report – the SO;
- Report – WO #1;
- Report – WO #2; and
- Additional Officer Reports.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained the following records from other sources between September 14 and 21, 2023:
- The Complainant’s medical records from the QCH;
- Video footage from the apartment building; and
- Ambulance Call Reports from the Ottawa Paramedic Service.
At about 5:40 a.m. on September 12, 2023, the SO, joined shortly by WO #1 and WO #2, arrived at the front lobby of an apartment building on McEwen Avenue, Ottawa. CW #1 had contacted police to report an out of breath, naked male in the basement level. The officers were escorted to the stairwell where, upon opening the stairwell door, they observed the naked male. He was standing and panting on a stairwell landing a number of steps below the lobby level.
The male was the Complainant. A non-resident, he had earlier that day been present at a resident’s unit where a party was happening. Security camera footage indicates that the Complainant had made his way down the elevator to Lower Level 1 of the building sometime before 5:30 a.m. He appeared confused, agitated, and impaired as he paced up and down the hallway of the corridor and eventually disrobed. By the time of the officers’ arrival in the stairwell, the Complainant was sweating profusely and warm to the touch. He was unable to answer their questions but did not resist when the officers secured him in handcuffs behind the back.
The SO quickly realized that the Complainant was in medical crisis and radioed for an ambulance. It was his idea to handcuff the Complainant, whom he suspected was suffering from excited delirium. As they waited for paramedics to arrive, the SO asked for an update on their estimated time of arrival. The officers moved the Complainant to a landing between Lower Level 1 and Lower Level 2 and placed him in the recovery position. The Complainant’s condition was deteriorating – his breathing was becoming more laboured, his pallor was grey, and white foam was coming from his mouth. The time was about 5:48 a.m.
Two paramedics arrived at about 5:51 a.m. and assumed charge of the Complainant’s care. He was placed on his back and a handcuff removed moments before he lost vital signs. One of the paramedics applied a resuscitation airbag while the officers performed CPR. Firefighters arrived on scene and assisted with the Complainant’s care.
The Complainant was transported to hospital and pronounced deceased at about 6:42 a.m.
Cause of DeathThe cause of the Complainant’s death remains pending the results of toxicological analysis but is suspected of being drug toxicity.
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 SO, sufficiently egregious to attract criminal sanction, that caused or contributed to the Complainant’s death. In my view, there was not.
The SO, WO #1 and WO #2 were lawfully placed throughout their brief engagement with the Complainant. The protection and preservation of life being their foremost obligation, the officers were duty bound to do what was reasonably within their power to prevent harm coming to the Complainant.
I am also satisfied that the SO comported himself with due care and regard for the Complainant’s well-being. The officer quickly surmised that the Complainant was in medical distress and promptly called for paramedics. While he and the other officers waited, they monitored the Complainant and placed him in a recovery position. With the arrival of the paramedics, the officers also assisted with CPR. While the decision to handcuff the Complainant is subject to scrutiny, it did not depart markedly from a reasonable standard of care. On the one hand, securing the Complainant’s arms behind his back might have made it harder for him to breathe. On the other hand, the SO’s justification for doing so, namely, to ensure the safety of the officers and the Complainant, was not without merit. If the others were concerned that the Complainant was in a stated of excited delirium, and I accept they were, taking precautions to ensure he was prevented from becoming hysterical and possibly violent makes sense. That contingency would have only delayed the medical care of which the Complainant was desperately in need.
In the result, while it remains unknown how and why the Complainant died, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that his death is not attributable to any conduct on the part of the SO that transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. As such, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case. The file is closed.
Date: January 9, 2024
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) Later identified as the Complainant. [Back to text]
- 3) 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.