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News Release

SIU Closes Investigation into Kakabeka Falls Custody Death

Case Number: 11-PCD-210

Mississauga (24 November, 2011) --- The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has reviewed the facts around the October 2011 custody death of 22-year-old Kurtis McVittie. Ian Scott, the Director of the SIU, has concluded there are no reasonable grounds to believe an Ontario Provincial Police officer committed a criminal offence in this case.

The SIU assigned two investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. The subject officer declined the SIU’s request to be interviewed and did not provide a copy of his duty notes, as is his legal right. Three witness officers and five civilian witnesses were interviewed. The incident area was forensically examined, video recorded and photographed. A canvass of the area was conducted.

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on October 12:

• In the afternoon of that day, the subject officer was dispatched to the Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park with respect to some unusual behaviour by Mr. McVittie. The officer arrived, received more information from the civilian who had made the initial call to police, and approached Mr. McVittie, presumably with the intention of detaining him under s. 17 of the Mental Health Act.

• Mr. McVittie turned away from the subject officer and positioned his arms in a manner that appeared as if he was complying with the officer’s intention to place handcuffs on his wrists. However, instead of remaining still, he ran away and jumped over the railing at the look-out area of the falls.

• It appeared to an independent civilian witness who was watching that Mr. McVittie’s legs buckled after he jumped, causing him to fall approximately 20 metres to his death over the edge of the gorge. No one was near him when he fell.

Director Scott said, "In my view, the subject officer had very little to do with Mr. McVittie’s tragic death. While it is difficult to conclude whether the officer had the appropriate grounds to detain or arrest Mr. McVittie because he did not provide the SIU with a statement, he clearly had no physical contact with the decedent at the critical moment when he leapt over the railing, lost his footing and fell to his death. Accordingly, I have no reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officer committed a criminal offence in relation to Mr. McVittie’s untimely demise."

The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must

  • consider whether an officer has committed a criminal offence  in connection with the incident under investigation
  • depending on the evidence, lay a criminal charge against the officer if appropriate or close the file without any charges being laid
  • report the results of any investigations to the Attorney General. 

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