News Release

SIU Reopens Orillia Custody Injuries Investigation

Case Number: 13-PCI-083

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SIU Affirms Orillia Investigation After Reopening Case

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Mississauga (4 March, 2015) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has reopened an investigation looking into the injuries sustained in 2013 by Maria Farrell. Ms. Farrell’s injuries resulted from an interaction with Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Sergeant (Sgt) Russell Watson.

The initial SIU investigation determined that in the early morning hours of April 2, 2013, the OPP responded to the area of Colborne Street East and West Street South in Orillia. Upon arrival, Sgt Watson located Ms. Farrell with another individual. An interaction occurred between Ms. Farrell and the officer, in the course of which Ms. Farrell’s left leg was broken.

The SIU concluded at the time that there were no reasonable grounds to believe a criminal offence was committed by Sgt Watson.

As a result of the incident, Ms. Farrell was charged by police with assaulting and obstructing a police officer. In December of 2014, Ontario Court Justice George Beatty dismissed the charges.

As a result of comments made by Justice Beatty in his “reasons for judgment” regarding the conduct of Sgt Watson, the SIU decided to review the file, including the judge’s reasons and the transcripts from Ms. Farrell’s trial, to assess whether there were grounds to reopen the investigation.  As a result of that review, the SIU has reopened the investigation.  

While the investigation is ongoing, no further comment will be made.

The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials (police officers as well as special constables with the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service) that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must

  • consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
  • depending on the evidence, cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official where grounds exist for doing so, or close the file without any charges being laid
  • publicly report the results of its investigations

Monica Hudon, monica.hudon@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342