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News Release

SIU Concludes Death Investigation in Newmarket

Case Number: 12-OCD-216

Mississauga (14 December, 2012) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a York Regional Police officer with any criminal offence in relation to the death of a 56-year-old man in July of 2012.

The SIU assigned three investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, two witness officers and eight civilian witnesses were interviewed. The subject officer participated in an SIU interview, but did not provide a copy of her duty notes, as is her legal right.  A post-mortem examination was received and reviewed by the SIU on December 7, 2012.  

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Wednesday, July 25:
• At approximately 9:30 p.m., the subject officer and a witness officer responded to a call involving an intoxicated male at the Tim Hortons on Davis Drive in Newmarket. The witness officer received further information that the man had sworn at an employee and had kicked a door.
• The officers arrested the man outside of the restaurant for public intoxication after observing that he was unsteady on his feet, mumbling incoherently, his eyes were blurry and he had the smell of alcohol on his breath. The man was handcuffed and placed in the rear seat of the subject officer’s cruiser.  As the subject officer drove the cruiser to One District station, the man yelled at her.
• The officer entered the sally port area of the detachment.  After a brief conversation with another officer, the subject officer returned to her cruiser.  She saw the man banging his head against the cruiser window.  The officer opened the cruiser’s rear door and noticed that the man stopped speaking and was now seated with his head slumped forward with saliva drooling from his mouth. Another officer thought the man was having a seizure. The officers removed the man from the cruiser and placed him on the sally port floor in a semi-prone position.  His handcuffs were removed, and breathing checked.  There was no apparent obstruction in his airways.  Paramedics arrived and transported him to Southlake Regional Health Centre.  He was vital signs absent on arrival at the hospital. Medical staff at the hospital attempted to intubate him but found that his airway was completely obstructed by clear plastic baggies containing marijuana.
• The man was placed on life support but died the next day.

While stopped outside the sally port, video imagery from the subject officer in-cruiser camera shows a small portion of clear plastic material protruding out of the corner of the man’s mouth. 

The post-mortem examination concluded that the man died of inadequate oxygen and blood supply to the brain due to complications from an obstruction of the upper airway by a plastic bag with acute ethanol intoxication as a contributing factor.  While the body had numerous contusions and abrasions, none of them contributed to his death.

Director Scott said, “In my view, the subject officer did nothing wrong in these circumstances.  The officers had the grounds to arrest the man under s. 31 of the Liquor Licence Act because they could reasonably conclude that his state of intoxication was such that it was necessary to do so for his personal safety.  The only reasonable inference to draw from the investigation is that the man had placed some baggies containing marijuana in his mouth in an attempt to conceal them from the police. At some point after the subject officer and the man arrived at the police station, he either intentionally or accidentally swallowed the baggies, and they became trapped in his airway leading, ultimately, to his demise. The subject officer had no reason to suspect that he had these baggies in his mouth while in transport to the detachment, or that they had entered his airway in such a manner that his breathing was completely obstructed.  Accordingly, she cannot be held criminally liable for the man’s unfortunate 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