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News Release

SIU Concludes Death Investigation in Toronto

Case Number: 13-TCD-058

Mississauga (9 April, 2013) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge two Toronto Police Service officers with any criminal offence in relation to the death of a 38-year-old man in Toronto last month.

The SIU assigned four investigators and one forensic investigator to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, six witness officers and 10 civilian witnesses were interviewed. Both subject officers participated in interviews with the SIU. While one officer provided his notes, the other officer did not, as is her legal right.

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Friday, March 1, 2013:
• In the early morning hours, the two subject officers were driving along the south side of the Keele Street subway when they saw a man standing on the bus platform, smoking in contravention of a TTC bylaw. After speaking with the man, one of the officers began writing up a Provincial Offences Notice for the smoking offence. While writing, the officer noticed that the man had something in his mouth and that there was the odour of freshly smoked marijuana emanating from him. The officers arrested him for possession of marijuana and handcuffed his hands behind his back. The man appeared to be trying to swallow a dark plastic bag. He refused to spit it out, so one of the officers grabbed the man’s throat in an attempt to stop him from swallowing the bag and its contents. As a result of the man attempting to reach for something with his hands, the officers lowered him to the ground. They were unsuccessful in having him remove the bag from his mouth. They called for police assistance and paramedics.
• While being transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital by ambulance, the man continued to chew and the officers noted there was a white powdery substance around his mouth area which they believed to be cocaine. 
• Once at the hospital, the man’s wrists were handcuffed to the railings of the bed. He appeared to be suffering from the effects of a medication. The man was released by police on an Appearance Notice for possession of marijuana and his handcuffs were removed.
• Shortly thereafter, the man ingested ten to fifteen pills from a bottle that had just been returned to him by a nurse. As a result, medical staff at the hospital decided to hold him under the authority of the Mental Health Act. Several officers assisted hospital security staff in escorting the man to the Crisis Unit. The man’s medical condition quickly deteriorated. He began to have seizures and was pronounced dead at 5:08 a.m. after unsuccessful resuscitation efforts. 

A subsequent autopsy was unable to ascertain an anatomical cause of death.

Director Scott said, “In my view, the subject officers had the lawful authority to arrest the man after observing that he appeared to be in possession of an illegal substance. They also had the authority to attempt to force him to disgorge what reasonably appeared to be contraband in his mouth. The period of detention from the Keele subway area to St. Joseph’s Hospital is justifiable either as part of an ongoing effort to preserve the evidence or an attempt to provide medical attention related to a probable ingestion of harmful drugs. In either scenario, the subject officers’ role as those responsible for the man’s detention came to an end when the man was released on an Appearance Notice.

“In my view, the subject officers did nothing wrong in relation to their involvement with the man; they made earnest efforts to assist him during his medical distress apparently caused by the ingestion of a harmful drug. Further, there is no suggestion of excessive use of force. It would appear that the man was responsible either inadvertently or advertently for his own 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, 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