SIU Concludes Niagara Falls Death Investigation
Case Number: 12-OCD-213
Other News Releases Related to Case 12-OCD-213
Mississauga (28 August, 2012) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge an officer with the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) with any criminal offence in relation to the death of 18-year-old Ryan Dube in July of 2012.
The SIU assigned seven investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, four witness officers and 17 civilian witnesses were interviewed. Subject officer Constable Jacob Smits did not participate in an SIU interview and did not provide the SIU with a copy of his duty notes, as is his legal right.
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Tuesday, July 24, 2012:
• Shortly after 5:00 p.m., Cst Smits was dispatched to check an address for Mr. Dube who was wanted on an outstanding warrant for breach of probation.
• When he located Mr. Dube walking with a friend in the area of Ontario Avenue and Otter Street, Cst Smits exited his cruiser and informed Mr. Dube of the outstanding warrant for his arrest. The officer returned to his vehicle to retrieve a pen and paper, and to radio in that Mr. Dube was in custody and no further assistance was required.
• Mr. Dube took this opportunity to flee from the officer. Cst Smits followed in his cruiser along Ontario Street, and then continued the chase by foot. Mr. Dube ran across River Road and then down an incline to a retaining wall separating the roadway from the Niagara Gorge. The wall is approximately three to four feet in height and made of stone. On the other side of the wall, the ground juts out approximately five feet on a decline, and then there is a significant drop-off into the Niagara Gorge.
• Mr. Dube reached the retaining wall, put his hands on the top, and propelled himself over the wall to the other side. Cst Smits ran to the wall, hesitated for a brief moment, and then propelled himself over the wall. A civilian witness said he saw Mr. Dube go over the wall and then heard branches snapping. After seeing Cst Smits go over the wall approximately three seconds later, that witness ran to the wall and caught a glimpse of the officer’s uniform as he fell into the gorge area. No witnesses saw any physical contact between the officer and Mr. Dube.
• They both fell approximately 70 feet before continuing to slide down a 45 degree rock formation a distance of another 60 to 70 feet.
• Members of the NRPS Emergency Task Unit were called to the scene to assist in the rescue. The subject officer radioed that he was injured with a possible broken leg. He discharged his firearm a number of times to help the rescue team ascertain his location. Members of the ETU rappelled down the gorge and located both men. Mr. Dube had sustained severe injuries as a result of his fall into the gorge and was lapsing in and out of consciousness. An ETU officer performed CPR on Mr. Dube but unfortunately he passed away before he could be extracted from the gorge. The subject officer had sustained a fractured right thigh as a result of his fall. He was removed from the gorge and given medical attention. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Dube was extracted from the gorge and pronounced deceased at the scene by the attending coroner.
• A post-mortem examination determined the cause of death to be hemorrhagic shock and multiple blunt force injuries caused by a descent from a height. There is no suggestion that Mr. Dube sustained any firearms injuries.
Director Scott said, “In my view, the subject officer has no criminal responsibility in relation to the death of Mr. Dube. He had the lawful authority to arrest Mr. Dube based upon an outstanding warrant, and the authority to apprehend him after he fled the lawful custody. Unfortunately, Mr. Dube chose to escape apprehension by jumping over a retaining wall and placing himself in significant jeopardy. The most likely scenario based upon one civilian witness hearing the sounds of branches breaking and running to the wall only to see the subject officer disappearing is Mr. Dube fell into the gorge almost immediately after jumping over the wall. While Cst Smits may have been in hot pursuit of Mr. Dube, civilian witnesses did not see any contact between the subject officer and Mr. Dube either at the retaining wall or immediately thereafter. Accordingly, I am of the view that Mr. Dube’s demise was not related to any wrongful act by the subject officer.”
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342