SIU Director’s Report - Case # 23-OCI-383


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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 the serious injury of a 29-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU [1]

On September 15, 2023, at 10:26 p.m., the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service (SSMPS) left a message on the SIU voicemail to report the arrest of the Complainant. On September 18, 2023, at 9:25 a.m., a reply phone call was made to the SSMPS, [2] and a message was left to return the call to the SIU. At 1:04 p.m., the SSMPS reported that on September 15, 2023, at 2:23 p.m., the Complainant was brought to the SSMPS station on the strength of outstanding warrants after he was arrested by Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Subject Official (SO) #2 and a constable with the Anishinabek Police Service (APS) – APS Officer #1. The Complainant was apparently searched prior to arriving at the SSMPS and searched again before being lodged in a holding cell by SO #1 and Witness Official (WO) #1. At 2:45 p.m., the cell monitor, WO #4, noticed the Complainant was fidgeting in his cell. WO #4 and WO #1 checked the Complainant, searched him again and found clear baggies containing crystal methamphetamine, fentanyl and cocaine in a pant pocket. They then commenced a strip search, found another baggie in his underwear that contained cannabis and a lighter, and saw a small strip of rolled toilet paper situated in his rectum. The Complainant was asked to remove it. The Complainant refused and was transported to the Sault Area Hospital (SAH) by ambulance, escorted by SO #1 and a SSMPS special constable. In the emergency department, the Complainant continued refusing to remove the item from his rectum and was admitted for observation as hospital staff also refused to do so. The Complainant was handcuffed to a gurney, awaiting a bail hearing scheduled for the next morning. At 7:50 p.m., the Complainant was seen fidgeting under his blanket and then attempting to ingest something he appeared to extract from his rectum. Police officers intervened and the package was seized. SO #1 and the special constable were later relieved by WO #2 and WO #3. At 9:13 p.m., WO #2 advised the staff sergeant that the Complainant had lapsed into unconsciousness and was in a coma. He had since been transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and had not regained consciousness but was expected to survive.

The Team

Date and time team dispatched: 09/18/2023 at 4:42 p.m.

Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 09/19/2023 at 7:45 a.m.

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 0

Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):

29-year-old male; interviewed; medical records obtained and reviewed

The Complainant was interviewed on September 26, 2023.

Subject Officials

SO #1 Interviewed
SO #2 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right

The subject official was interviewed on October 24, 2023.

Witness Officials

WO #1 Interviewed; notes received and reviewed
WO #2 Interviewed; notes received and reviewed
WO #3 Interviewed; notes received and reviewed
WO #4 Interviewed; notes received and reviewed
WO #5 Interviewed; notes received and reviewed

The witness officials were interviewed between September 25, 2023, and October 17, 2023.


The Scene

The events in question transpired outside the Co-op Store, 3475 ON-17B W, Echo Bay, and in and around the SSMPS headquarters, 580 Second Line East, Sault Ste. Marie.

Physical Evidence

The SSMPS reportedly seized fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine from the Complainant during the strip search and at the hospital.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence [3]

Co-op Store Video Recordings

Video recordings from a camera mounted at the store where the Complainant was arrested captured a view of the Complainant standing on the roadway in front of the driveway entrance to the parking lot at about 12:58 p.m., September 15, 2023. Holding a cardboard sign, the Complainant walked to and from the store, where he sat on a swing chair before returning to the roadway several times. When the sign came in camera view, the writing indicated he needed a ride.

The Complainant was attired in two jackets with a hoodie underneath, sweatpants, running shoes, socks and a hat.

The Complainant was sitting on the swing at 1:18 p.m. when APS Officer #1 [4] arrived in uniform driving a fully marked APS Ford F-150 cruiser. APS Officer #1 exited the vehicle, and approached and spoke to the Complainant. He searched the Complainant’s right jacket pocket and removed property, then searched the left jacket pocket. The two were speaking as the Complainant removed items from his jacket pockets when another vehicle arrived. A man, now known to be APS Officer #2, wearing plainclothes, parked next to APS Officer #1’s cruiser and approached them at 1:20 p.m. The three men conversed until 1:25 p.m., when the Complainant removed his shoes. The Complainant then replaced his shoes and returned his property to his jacket pockets.

Neither APS Officer #1 nor APS Officer #2 continued or completed the search beyond searching the Complainant’s jacket pockets and having the Complainant remove items from his other jacket pockets.

At 1:31 p.m., a fully marked OPP sedan-style cruiser, now known to have been operated by SO #2, arrived and parked next to APS Officer #1’s truck. SO #2 exited and approached the Complainant.

APS Officer #1 walked over from his truck with a clear plastic bag. The Complainant placed property into the bag.

At 1:35 p.m., the Complainant followed SO #2 to the right rear door of his cruiser and entered the car. The Complainant was not handcuffed, and no further search was conducted. SO #2 never came into physical contact with the Complainant before he was seated in the cruiser.

SO #2 then spoke with APS Officer #1.

At 1:39:52 p.m., SO #2 opened the right rear door and appeared to be speaking with the Complainant. APS Officer #1 approached the open door. While the Complainant sat in the car, at 1:42:15 p.m., it appeared APS Officer #1 searched the Complainant, as he removed property from him.

At 1:44:10 p.m., the Complainant was removed from the car. Standing between the open door and the rear seat, it appeared APS Officer #1 searched the Complainant.

The search was completed at 1:44:35 p.m. The Complainant was sat in the cruiser again, still unhandcuffed, and the door was closed at 1:45:24 p.m.

At 1:48 p.m., the police officers entered their cruisers and drove away.

SSMPS Video Recordings

Exterior Building Cameras

The recording from a camera mounted on the SSMPS headquarter’s building exterior west side did not clearly capture SO #2’s search of the Complainant as it was conducted just beyond the camera’s left side field of view. SO #2 and APS Officer #1 approached the right side of SO #2’s cruiser, where it appeared they interacted with the Complainant.

After about two minutes, the overhead bay door opened and a police officer approached. About two-and-a-half minutes after the police officers began interacting with the Complainant, he was escorted into the building. At this time, the Complainant was wearing a hoodie and SO #2 carried his outer jacket.

In the sally port, an apparent search was also out of camera view. The recording captured APS Officer #1 placing the Complainant’s outerwear on a bench where he searched the articles.

Booking and Cell Area Recordings

A camera in the booking area captured a clear view of the Complainant as he stood at the booking desk when he arrived at 2:20 p.m. in the custody of SO #2 and APS Officer #1.

While being processed, the Complainant removed his hoodie and was seen wearing a T-shirt underneath. SO #1, wearing black gloves, patted him down while SO #2 and APS Officer #1 stood by. At about 08:56 minutes in the recording, the Complainant’s right pant pocket appeared normal. About four seconds later, SO #1 blocked a view of what appeared to have been his search of the Complainant’s right pant pocket.

At 09:10 in the recording, the Complainant’s right pant pocket appeared to have been pulled out during the search.

Although SO #1 patted down the Complainant’s left pant leg, removed his shoes and patted down his feet, the left pant pocket was not pulled out, as was the right pocket.

The Complainant appeared slow and lethargic while he walked about the area.

SAH Video Recordings

The SIU obtained security video recordings from a camera mounted in the room in which the Complainant was placed at SAH.

At 4:29 p.m., the Complainant was on a gurney, while handcuffed with his hands in front of his body. He was lying on his right side with his back to the wall, generally facing a police officer, now known to be SO #1, who sat in a chair.

At 5:10 p.m., SO #1 stood and assisted the Complainant in pulling the blanket further up his body to about his chest, while his hands remained exposed.

At 5:38 p.m., the Complainant appeared to raise the blanket with his left hand, and he inserted his right hand under the blanket to the area around his groin as he raised and spread his left leg. SO #1 quickly stood and approached the bed.

Another officer entered the room as SO #1 appeared to struggle with the Complainant, who writhed about. SO #1 withdrew handcuffs and the Complainant was handcuffed to the side bed rails. The blanket was removed.

At 6:12 p.m., a hospital employee entered the room with a blanket and covered the Complainant’s upper body, leaving his arms exposed.

At 7:39 p.m., lighting in the room dimmed and the Complainant was no longer in clear view.

At 7:49 p.m., the Complainant moved his head towards his left hand and appeared to place something in his mouth.

Police officers approached the bed and physically engaged with the Complainant, using a flashlight to illuminate the mattress area under his lower body. They appeared to inspect the Complainant’s mouth.

Hospital staff then entered the room with equipment at various times and tended to the Complainant.

At around 8:25 p.m., the Complainant appeared to begin convulsing, with his legs and right arm twitching and moving constantly.

At 8:39 p.m., the Complainant’s gurney was rolled out of the room.

OPP Communications Recordings

On September 15, 2023, at 1:59 p.m., the OPP received a call reporting a man holding a sign by the Co-op store in Echo Bay and jumping onto the roadway in front of passing vehicles.

At 1:02 p.m., police officers were dispatched to the traffic hazard. SO #2 asked to be assigned to the call as he was close by while another police officer, now known to be APS Officer #1, also responded saying he believed the man was the individual with whom he was involved earlier in the day. The man, wanted by SSMPS, had walked away from him and disappeared earlier in the day.

APS Officer #1 subsequently reported he was with the male, identified as the Complainant, who turned out to be the man he expected and added that APS Officer #2 was with him.

It was then reported the Complainant was in custody and in the police vehicle when the police officer asked for confirmation of outstanding warrants. When that was confirmed, an officer asked the dispatcher to confirm if SSMPS wanted a return on the warrants.

At 1:49 p.m., the OPP dispatcher called SSMPS to ascertain whether the service would return on warrants for the Complainant. WO #1 advised they would and arranged for the Complainant to be brought to the station.

SO #2 transported the Complainant to SSMPS.

Materials Obtained from Police Service

Upon request, SIU received the following records from SSMPS between September 19, 2023, and October 31, 2023:
  • Arrest Booking Report;
  • Arrest Reports and Checklists;
  • Station video recordings;
  • Crown Brief Synopsis;
  • Exhibit Control Registry;
  • Prisoner Care and Control Evaluation Form;
  • Witness statements and notes of involved officials;
  • Recording of call to emergency medical services;
  • Policy - Arrest;
  • Policy - Prisoner Care and Control;
  • Policy - Search of Persons;
  • Video recording of west side of SSMPS headquarters; and
  • Forensic photographs.
Upon request, the SIU received the following records from the OPP between September 26, 2023, and October 19, 2023:
  • General Occurrence Report;
  • Arrest Report; and
  • Communications recordings.
OPP orders related to arrests and prisoner searches were also reviewed in the course of this investigation.

Materials Obtained from Other Sources

The SIU obtained the following records from other sources:
  • Co-op Store video recordings;
  • The Complainant’s medical records; and
  • SAH video recordings.

Incident Narrative

The evidence collected by the SIU, including interviews with the Complainant and SO #1, as well as video footage that captured the incident in parts, gives rise to the following scenario. As was his legal right, SO #2 chose not to interview with the SIU or authorize the release of his notes.

In the afternoon of September 15, 2023, the Complainant was arrested in Echo Bay by APS Officer #1 and SO #2 of the OPP. The officers, responding to the scene following a report of a male jumping onto the roadway in front of passing vehicles, confronted the Complainant and took him into custody on the strength of an outstanding arrest warrant held by the SSMPS. The Complainant was searched by APS Officer #1, placed in the rear of SO #2’s cruiser, and transported to the SSMPS police station.

Arriving at the police station, the Complainant was searched by SO #2 outside the facility before being brought inside for booking. He was searched again by SO #1 during the booking procedure before he was placed in a cell at about 2:45 p.m. to await a bail hearing. Approximately ten minutes later, the officer assigned to monitor the Complainant in cells, WO #4, observed a white powder on the cell bench. He and WO #1 entered the cell, handcuffed the Complainant and brought him into another room to be strip searched.

Three or four plastic baggies containing illicit substances were confiscated from the left pocket of the Complainant’s pants during the strip search, as was another plastic baggie containing cannabis and a lighter from his underwear. WO #1 and WO #4 also noticed what appeared to be another container packed tightly in the Complainant’s anus. Concerned that he was at risk of a medical emergency if the container with suspected drugs burst, WO #1 arranged to have the Complainant transported to hospital. Paramedics were contacted and arrived at the station at about 3:10 p.m.

SO #1 rode with the Complainant in the ambulance en route to the SAH and, together with a special constable, monitored the Complainant in hospital. At one point, having noticed the Complainant attempting to reach under his blanket towards the inside of his pants, SO #1 and the special constable decided to restrain his arms to the bed rails.
WO #2 relieved SO #1 at the hospital at about 7:00 p.m. He was joined shortly by WO #3. At about 7:50 p.m., the Complainant managed to retrieve a small plastic baggie from under his blanket and attempted to empty its contents into his mouth. WO #2 approached the Complainant and swatted the baggie out of his hand. To prevent him from accessing anything more, the officer handcuffed the Complainant’s right hand to the bed rail above his head. The Complainant had ingested a quantity of cocaine.

The Complainant’s condition began to manifestly deteriorate at about 8:20 p.m. when he started convulsing. CPR was administered and the Complainant was transferred to the ICU unconscious.

Relevant Legislation

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

The Complainant lapsed into acute medical distress on September 15, 2023, while at the SAH. As he was in the custody of the SSMPS at the time, the SIU was notified of the incident and initiated an investigation. Two subject officials were identified in the course of the investigation: SO #2 of the OPP and SO #1 of the SSMPS. The investigation is now concluded. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either subject official committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s medical condition.

The offence that arises for consideration is criminal negligence causing bodily harm contrary to section 221 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 medical event. In my view, there was not.

There are no questions raised in the evidence regarding the lawfulness of the Complainant’s arrest and period of custody. A bench warrant for the Complainant’s apprehension was in effect at the time. 

With respect to the care afforded the Complainant during his time in custody, I am unable to reasonably conclude that either subject official failed to comport himself with due care and regard for his health and well-being. The issue essentially comes down to the searches that were performed by the officers and how it was that the Complainant was able to bring illicit substances into police cells. Were there evidence to establish that the drugs confiscated from the Complainant’s left pant pockets were there when he was first arrested and then entered the cells, there would be an arguable case that the searches conducted by SO #2 and SO #1 were something less than careful. Drawing that inference, however, is speculative in the circumstances. In his interview with the SIU, SO #1 was confident that he had conducted a thorough search and there were no substances in the Complainant’s pockets. He surmised, with some support, that the drugs must have been secreted in the Complainant’s underwear when he entered the cells and then, presumably, moved by the Complainant into his pockets. Indeed, drugs were located in a baggie inside the Complainant’s underwear in the course of the strip search conducted by WO #4 and WO #1. If that is, in fact, what happened, and there is reason to believe it is, then it seems that nothing short of a strip search would have been effective in discovering the drugs. A strip search, however, is only lawful where there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe it is necessary in the circumstances of an arrest: R. v. Golden, [2001] 3 SCR 679. On the one hand, the Complainant had been found with burned foil in his possession – an indicia of drug use – at the time of his arrest. On the other hand, the reason for his arrest was not drug-related; he presented as coherent and sober, and denied recent drug use, when booked at the SSMPS station; and the pat-down or frisk searches that each subject official had performed had not given them any cause to suspect the Complainant had substances secreted in his underwear, let alone in his rectum. On this record, it is not apparent that the failure to perform a strip search before the Complainant entered cells departed markedly from a reasonable standard of care in the circumstances. [5]
In the result, as there are no reasonable grounds to conclude that either subject official transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law in their dealings with the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges. The file is closed.

Date: January 12, 2024

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) The SIU is currently reviewing why the initial call from the police service was not accessed sooner. [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]
  • 4) Both APS Officer #1 and APS Officer #2 declined SIU’s request for an interview. [Back to text]
  • 5) I am also satisfied that the Complainant’s ability to access and consume cocaine while under police guard at hospital does not give rise to grounds for a charge of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. When the Complainant retrieved a baggie of cocaine from in or around his anus, WO #2 acted quickly to swat the item out his hand, after which he repositioned the Complainant’s restraints to make any further attempts more difficult. [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.