SIU Finds No Criminal Conduct in Thunder Bay Police Arrest Incident

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Thunder Bay Police Service Unit

MISSISSAUGA – News – The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has concluded its investigation into the February 1, 2024 arrest of a 27-year-old man by Thunder Bay Police Service officers, which resulted in serious injury.

The Incident

On February 1, 2024, at 5:57 p.m., the Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS) notified the SIU of an injury to the Complainant.

According to the TBPS, on February 1, 2024, at 12:20 p.m., TBPS officers responded to a building [later identified to be near Arthur Street East] for complaints of criminal activity. Police officers came across a man [later identified as the Complainant]. The police officers attempted to arrest the Complainant for trespass. He provided a false name and fled from police officers. A conducted energy weapon (CEW) was deployed, and the Complainant was subdued. He was walked to the police cruiser where he smashed his head into the vehicle’s window two times. As Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were not available, police officers transported the Complainant to a hospital [later identified as the Thunder Bay Regional Health Center (TBRHC)]. He was diagnosed with a fracture to his nose.

Evidence

The Scene

The events in question transpired in a basement hallway of an apartment building near Arthur Street East, Thunder Bay, and in and around a police cruiser parked outside the same building.

Forensic Evidence

CEW Deployment Data – SO #1

On February 1, 2024, the weapon was deployed in drive stun mode at the following times: at 12:21:35 p.m.[2] for 1.69 seconds; at 12:21:38 p.m. for 0.50 seconds; at 12:21:39 p.m. for 0.29 seconds; at 12:21:40 p.m. for 0.65 seconds; and, at 12:22:11 p.m. for 1.30 seconds.

The CEW was then deployed in probe mode at 12:22:51 p.m. for 4.91 seconds and at 12:23:02 p.m. for 4.93 seconds.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence[3]

Body-worn Camera (BWC) Footage

TBPS provided the SIU thirteen BWC recordings of their interaction with the Complainant on February 1, 2024.

The incident began at 12:18:15 p.m., February 1, 2024, in the basement hallway of the building near Arthur Street East and concluded at 12:42:05 p.m. with the Complainant being restrained to a hospital stretcher at TBRHC.

At 12:18:15 p.m., two police officers – SO #1 and SO #2 – arrived in the building hallway and spoke with a man who directed them to a yellow metal door.

At 12:18:34 p.m., SO #1 and SO #2 opened a yellow metal door into a cluttered hallway with five persons sitting on and near a mattress on the floor.

At 12:18:51 p.m., police officers advised the persons that they were all trespassing.

At 12:19:23 p.m., a man – the Complainant – verbally identified himself with an inaccurate name while others were getting their belongings together to leave the area.

At 12:19:33 p.m., the Complainant provided his year of birth which was inaccurate.

At 12:19:39 p.m., the Complainant advised he was just trying to leave.

At 12:19:58 p.m., the Complainant was detained as officers attempted to identify him.

At 12:20:32 p.m., the Complainant was told by police officers not to reach down for his bag as there was a knife laying right beside it.

At 12:20:44 p.m., police officers told the Complainant to stand still and do nothing.

At 12:21:09 p.m., a police officer told the Complainant that he had lied about his identity.

At 12:21:20 p.m., the Complainant was grounded by the two police officers.

At 12:21:24 p.m., police officers tried to gain control of the Complainant, who was sitting.

At 12:21:36 p.m., police officers struck the Complainant and a CEW was deployed.

At 12:21:48 p.m., the struggle continued.

At 12:21:57 p.m., the Complainant yelled at police officers. A CEW was deployed.

At 12:22:01 p.m., the Complainant stated, “You punched me in the fucking face!”

At 12:22:06 p.m., police officer stated, “Put your hands behind your back.” The Complainant said, “I did not hit you.”

At 12:22:20 p.m., the Complainant yelled, “Fuck you!” repeatedly at the police officers and rolled on his back facing the police officers.

At 12:22:30 p.m., one of the police officers yelled, “Stop!”

At 12:22:36 p.m., the Complainant said, “I did not trespass.”

At 12:22:54 p.m., the Complainant struggled with police officers and a CEW was deployed.

At 12:23:02 p.m., a police officer stated, “Give me your hands!” the Complainant responded, “Just leave me alone.”

At 12:23:13 p.m., the Complainant did not put his hands behind his back.

At 12:23:17 p.m., a third police officer arrived on scene.

At 12:23:56 p.m., a police officer updated communications, “We are still fighting.”

At 12:24:20 p.m., the Complainant was cuffed behind his back and communications was updated, “One in custody.”

At 12:25:25 p.m., the Complainant, still combative, was searched and held in place by three police officers.

At 12:25:29 p.m., the Complainant spat at the police officers.

At 12:27:11 p.m., three police officers escorted the Complainant down the sidewalk to a waiting police vehicle.

At 12:27:22 p.m., the Complainant kicked the police vehicle tire and smashed his forehead into the rear passenger side window, shattering the window.

At 12:27:24 p.m., the Complainant was down on his knees beside the police vehicle and was told he was under arrest for mischief as well.

At 12:27:32 p.m., the Complainant stated, “You smashed my head in, look what you just did to me.”

At 12:27:35 p.m., an officer responded, “You did that to you.”

At 12:28:12 p.m., the Complainant was placed on his back. He was pushed and pulled into the back seat, and continued to resist.

At 12:28:23 p.m., the Complainant was in the back seat, and the police vehicle door was closed.

At 12:28:31 p.m., a police officer stated, “We have to take him to the hospital, he has been tazed twice.”

At 12:31:04 p.m., a police officer checked on the Complainant and stated, “He is still breathing but he is seizing.”

At 12:32:25 p.m., officers escorted the Complainant to hospital on high priority.

At 12:41:06 p.m., a police vehicle arrived in the ambulance bay at the hospital.

Computer-assisted Dispatch (CAD) Report

At 12:22 p.m., a police officer reported a fight with a man [later identified as the Complainant] in the basement.

At 12:23 p.m., the Complainant was tasered twice.

At 12:24 p.m., the Complainant was in custody.

At 12:27 p.m., the Complainant shattered the window of a police vehicle. He was bleeding from the forehead after he smashed his head against the window.

At 12:32 p.m., EMS was unavailable, and police officers would be transporting the Complainant to TBRHC.

At 12:34 p.m., the Complainant was having a seizure.

At 12:39 p.m., the Complainant was unresponsive in the police vehicle.

At 1:17 p.m., police officers were advised the Complainant was stable and conscious.

SIU Director Joseph Martino determined that there were no reasonable grounds to believe any officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the man’s arrest and injury.

Analysis and Director’s Decision

The Complainant was seriously injured in the course of his arrest by TBPS officers on February 1, 2024. The SIU was notified of the incident and initiated an investigation naming SO #1 and SO #2 the subject officials. 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 arrest and injury.

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.

I am satisfied that SO #1 and SO #2 were proceeding lawfully to arrest the Complainant for trespassing under section 2(1)(a) of the Trespass to Property Act. The Complainant was not a resident of the apartment building.

I am also satisfied that the force used by SO #1 and SO #2 did not exceed what was reasonably necessary in the circumstances. Much of the struggle involved the officers wrestling to control an agitated the Complainant following his takedown, the takedown being a legitimate tactic when the Complainant resisted as officers first laid hands on him. Interspersed throughout the struggle were one or two punches directed at the Complainant’s head by both officers. These were relatively short intended to convince the Complainant to relent. The series of drive stuns delivered by SO #1 occurred near the tail end of the struggle, at which time the officers were still attempting to control the Complainant’s arms and it was clear the Complainant was not about to willingly release them. The CEW deployments in probe mode occurred after the Complainant had kicked at the officers and would appear a proportionate use of force given the difficulty the officers were having talking the Complainant into custody. In all of this, it is important to note that the officers and the Complainant were struggling in an environment filled with syringes. It was imperative in the circumstances that the Complainant be handcuffed as quickly as possible to mitigate the risk of any party being jabbed. On this record, it is important to note the common law principle that officers embroiled in dangerous situations are not expected to measure their force with precision; what is required is a reasonable response, not an exacting one: R v Nasogaluak, [2010] 1 SCR 206; R v Baxter (1975), 27 CCC (2d) 96 (Ont. CA).

At the end of the day, it is not altogether certain that the injuries the Complainant suffered were incurred in his altercation with police; one or both of them might have resulted from his self-inflicted head strike against the cruiser window. Be that as it may, as there are no reasonable grounds to conclude that the officers comported themselves other than within the limits of the criminal law in their dealings with the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case. The file is closed.

The full Director’s Report, including the Incident Narrative, Evidence, Analysis, and Director’s Decision, can be accessed here.

The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials, including police officers, special constables with the Niagara Parks Commission, and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service. These investigations cover incidents involving death, serious injury, sexual assault, or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All SIU investigations are conducted by civilian investigators.

Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the SIU Director must:

  • Determine whether the official has committed a criminal offense in connection with the incident under investigation.
  • Depending on the evidence, either cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official or close the file without any charges.
  • Publicly report the results of investigations.
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