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News Release

SIU Closes Investigation into Peel Region Custody Death

Case Number: 11-OCD-146

Mississauga (15 December, 2011) --- The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has reviewed the facts around the July 2011 custody death of 53-year-old Keith Prescod.  Ian Scott, the Director of the SIU, has concluded there are no reasonable grounds to believe three Peel Regional Police officers committed a criminal offence in this case.

The SIU assigned six investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident.  All of the subject officers refused to provide notes or a statement to the SIU, as is their legal right.  Seven witness officers and twenty-two civilian witnesses were interviewed.  The scene was examined, photographed and videotaped, and the area was canvassed for any video recording equipment.
 
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on July 24:
• In the early hours of that day, Mr. Prescod boarded a GO Transit bus on Dixon Road at Carlingview Avenue.  He was acting in a confused and agitated fashion and at one point struggled with the driver for control of the bus.  The driver dialled 9-1-1 and stopped the bus on an elevated ramp leading to the airport terminal. 
• Mr. Prescod left the bus, climbed over a railing to the ground and began to run.  Shortly thereafter, an airport maintenance worker saw him crawl over a barrier and fall to the ground. The employee approached Mr. Prescod who grabbed and tried to pull him to the ground.  In the process, Mr. Prescod bit him in the forearm. 
• The three subject officers appeared on scene and two of them tried to restrain him by pinning him down.  They handcuffed his hands behind his back.  By the time firefighters and EMS attendants arrived, Mr. Prescod was lying on his back with his eyes open but appearing to be unconscious.  One subject officer had his foot on Mr. Prescod’s chest. The firefighters tried CPR; however, the EMS attendants determined Mr. Prescod to be ‘vital signs absent.’  He was transported to Etobicoke General Hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

Director Scott said, “A forensic autopsy report was received by the SIU on December 6, 2011. The forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy considered and rejected the hypothesis that positional or restraint asphyxia could have been the cause of death.  She further noted that there were multiple minor blunt force injuries on the body, but none of them caused his death. Taking into consideration all aspects of the post-mortem examination, the pathologist concluded that the cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia in the presence of hypertensive heart disease, cocaine intoxication and physical exertion or struggle.  In my view, the results from the post-mortem examination are dispositive of the criminal legal issues with respect to this incident.  On the basis of that examination, it would appear that Mr. Prescod’s death was the result of a pre-existing medical condition exacerbated by the ingestion of cocaine and physical exertion.  I note however that the legal cause and manner of death will later be determined by a jury at a mandatory inquest.

“The officers had the lawful authority to restrain Mr. Prescod given his bizarre and assaultive behaviour. Accordingly, the three subject officers were not responsible for the cause of death in any material sense, and I cannot form the requisite grounds to believe that either collectively or individually they committed a criminal offence in relation to Mr. Prescod’s 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, 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