SIU Director’s Report - Case # 23-OCI-414
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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 serious injury of a 48-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIU On October 11, 2023, at 7:43 a.m., the Timmins Police Service (TPS) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant.
According to the TPS, on October 10, 2023, at 9:13 p.m., they responded to a residence in the area of Father Costello Drive, Timmins, where the Complainant was arrested for domestic assault. He was transported to TPS Headquarters and lodged in a cell shortly after 9:23 p.m. Though reported under the influence of alcohol, he was observed in good health at 10:00 p.m. At approximately 10:20 p.m., the Complainant was observed on cell video cameras to be hanging from his T-shirt, which was wrapped around his neck and attached to the cell door. The cell officer responded, and the T-shirt was cut and removed to allow for entry into the cell area. The Complainant was found with vital signs absent and emergency medical services (EMS) were summoned to respond. The Complainant was transported by EMS to Timmins and District Hospital (TDH) where he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. He was reportedly on a ventilator and unresponsive.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 10/11/2023 at 9:10 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 10/11/2023 at 7:15 p.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):48-year-old male; interviewed; medical records obtained and reviewed
The Complainant was interviewed on October 16, 2023.
Civilian Witness (CW)CW Interviewed
The civilian witness was interviewed on November 6, 2023.
Subject Official (SO)SO Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
The subject official was interviewed on November 28, 2023.
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed; notes received and reviewed
WO #2 Interviewed; notes received and reviewed
WO #3 Interviewed; notes received and reviewed
The witness officials were interviewed on October 16, 2023.
The Scene This incident occurred in the TPS cell blocks. The cell contained a concrete bench and a latrine, and was encompassed by concrete block walls and secured by a sliding, barred door.
Figure 1 - The cell where the Complainant was lodged
The SIU arrived on scene on October 11, 2023, at 7:15 p.m. The scene was examined and photographed.
Physical Evidence The SIU collected a T-shirt, which had reportedly been used by the Complainant to attempt to hang himself, and swabbed red staining from outside the cell.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence 
TPS Custody VideoAt 0036:07 minutes into the footage, the Complainant was lodged in the cell. Four minutes later, he removed his T-shirt and wrapped it around the cell bars. He tried to twist the T-shirt around his neck while bending over. He got down onto his knees and the CW, from an adjacent cell, yelled, "Hey, don't fucking start that, you're not alone here." The Complainant unwrapped the T-shirt from the bars and stood.
The SO appeared and advised the Complainant that if he tried it again, he would be sitting in the cell naked for the rest of the night. The Complainant told the SO, "I've got nothing else to lose bro’, I want to die." The SO told the Complainant, "Not here and not tonight, you are here until morning." The Complainant said, "I'll behave myself, sir."
The SO left and a conversation between the Complainant and the other prisoners continued. About eight minutes later, the SO returned, checked on the Complainant, and left. The Complainant and the CW argued with each other over getting sleep. The CW told the Complainant, "Fucking hang yourself you dead beat loser."
About 20 minutes later, the Complainant was laying on the bench. He got up and walked to the cell door. He wrapped his T-shirt around the bars and twisted his head through an opening in the shirt. He raised his arms in the air and dropped his body down hard to a sitting position, with his back to the cell bars. There was no further movement.
Five minutes and nine seconds later, the SO appeared. He used a knife to cut the T-shirt off and opened the door. The SO yelled for an ambulance and administered first-aid. A few minutes later, other officers and EMS arrived, and treated the Complainant.
Materials Obtained from Police Service Upon request, the SIU received the following materials from TPS between October 12, 2023, and November 22, 2023:
- TPS Occurrence Summary;
- TPS Arrest Report;
- TPS cell block video footage;
- TPS Arrest Booking Report;
- TPS local interactions with the Complainant;
- Notes – WO #3;
- Notes – WO #1;
- Notes – WO #2;
- TPS personal details for CW; and
- TPS policies for persons in crisis and prisoner care and control.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained the following records from other sources between October 16, 2023, and November 22, 2023:
- The Complainant’s medical records from TDH; and
- Canadian Police Information Centre record – Complainant.
The Complainant was intoxicated and emotionally distraught. While en route to the police station, he made a comment to the transporting officer – WO #1 – that he wanted to die.
At the station, WO #1 conveyed the Complainant’s comment to the booking officer – the SO. The SO asked about the remark and the Complainant explained that he would place his head under the wheel of a transport truck if his girlfriend did not return to him.
The Complainant was lodged in a cell at about 9:36 p.m. Some four minutes later, he fashioned a ligature with his T-shirt and wrapped it around the cell bars. The CW, the detainee in an adjacent cell, noticed what the Complainant was doing and convinced him to stop. The SO had also seen it via video monitor. He attended the cells and cautioned the Complainant he would be stripped of his clothing if he tried it again. The Complainant told the SO he wanted to die but stated he would “behave” himself. The officer left.
At about 10:20 p.m., the Complainant again wrapped his T-shirt around the cell bars and twisted his head through an opening in the shirt, after which he allowed his body to drop into a seated positioned. His back was to the cell bars. He remained in that position for about five minutes before the SO re-appeared.
The SO had noticed the Complainant’s peculiar position on video monitor and gone to the cells to check on him. Quickly realizing the Complainant was hanging, the officer cut the T-shirt from the cell bars and entered to render aid.
Paramedics arrived on scene within minutes and took charge of the Complainant’s care. He was taken to hospital and treated for brain injury.
Section 215, Criminal Code - Failure to Provide Necessaries
(c) to provide necessaries of life to a person under his charge if that person
(i) is unable, by reason of detention, age, illness, mental disorder or other cause, to withdraw himself from that charge, and(ii) is unable to provide himself with necessaries of life.
(b) with respect to a duty imposed by paragraph (1)(c), the failure to perform the duty endangers the life of the person to whom the duty is owed or causes or is likely to cause the health of that person to be injured permanently.
Sections 219 and 221, Criminal Code -- Criminal Negligence Causing Bodily Harm
(a) in doing anything, or(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
(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 offences that arise for consideration are failure to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing bodily harm contrary to sections 215 and 221 of the Criminal Code, respectively. Both require something more than a simple want of care to give rise to liability. The former is predicated, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. The latter is premised on even more egregious conduct that demonstrates a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons. It is not made out unless the neglect constitutes a marked and substantial departure from a reasonable standard of care. In the instant case, the question is whether there was any want of care on the part of the SO, sufficiently serious to attract criminal sanction, that endangered the Complainant’s life or contributed to his injury. In my view, there was not.
There are no issues in the evidence with respect to the lawfulness of the Complainant’s arrest. It appears he was legally taken into custody for a domestic-related incident and appropriately lodged in cells.
With respect to the care the Complainant was afforded during his brief time in cells, I am satisfied that the SO comported himself with due regard for his health and safety. The SO had inquired about the suicidal comment the Complainant made while en route to the station and satisfied himself he was not at immediate risk of self-harm. That judgment, in my view, is entitled to some deference. That might not have been the case had the SO known of the Complainant’s history of suicidal ideation, including an incident in the very same police cells the month before, but the evidence indicates he did not know that history, nor had the prior incident been flagged in the Complainant’s record. The same might be said of the officer’s conduct after first confronting the Complainant in cells about the initial suicide attempt. In retrospect, the officer would have been better served to take additional steps to prevent a further suicide attempt at that time – he was now aware of the comment in the cruiser and an actual act of attempted self-harm. He chose, instead, to caution the Complainant and rely on his assurance that his behaviour would stop. Whatever the merits of that judgement, I am unable to reasonably conclude that it rendered the SO’s conduct a marked departure from a reasonable standard of care. In arriving at that conclusion, I am mindful that the officer, despite being occupied with other duties, was alert to the Complainant’s predicament in fairly short order and thereafter acted quickly to cut the ligature and provide care.
For the foregoing reasons, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case against the SO. The file is closed.
Date: February 7, 2024
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) Unless otherwise specified, 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.