SIU Concludes Death Investigation in Guelph
Case Number: 13-OCD-077
Mississauga (25 July, 2013) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge any Guelph Police Service officers with any criminal offence in relation to the death of a 72-year-old Robert McGee, in March of this year.
The SIU assigned three investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, eight witness officers were designated and 16 civilian witnesses were interviewed. The SIU also designated three subject officers, of whom two participated in an interview and provided their duty notes. The third subject officer did not provide his notes or participate in an interview, as is his legal right.
The evidence gathered by the SIU suggests the following series of events leading to Mr. McGee’s death on March 27th:
• In 2000, Mr. McGee suffered a brain aneurysm and was operated on in an attempt to alleviate that condition. He has subsequently suffered from seizures, among other medical disorders.
• On March 21st, a week before Mr. McGee’s demise, his common-law wife called the police because he was acting up. She also informed the police that he had threatened to kill her with either a baseball bat or a knife.
• The call was classified as a “weapons-gun” call, and GPS responded by dispatching four officers, three of which were tactical response officers. Two Waterloo Regional Police Service patrol officers also attended the call. (WRPS was assisting GPS due to a police funeral in Guelph).
• In total, six uniformed officers responded to the call. A number of the Guelph officers had had previous dealings with Mr. McGee and were aware of at least some of his medical conditions.
• One of the officers saw the wife in the apartment hallway and attempted to gather more information from her, but received no response.
• The involved officers decided to use a ‘breach and hold’ technique in order to apprehend Mr. McGee. The first subject officer opened the door and yelled in, “police, show me your hands”. Mr. McGee slowly started walking toward the apartment entrance area with his left hand down by his side. The subject officer grabbed him by the shirt and brought him outside the apartment.
• Mr. McGee went down on his knees and a number of officers placed him on his stomach in order to handcuff his wrists behind his back. It is probable that Mr. McGee struck his head when he was taken to the ground.
• He was apprehended under the authority of s. 17 of the Mental Health Act and transported to the Guelph General Hospital.
• At the hospital, Mr. McGee was held overnight under the authority of Form 1 of the same Act, and released the next day into the care of his wife.
• The medical records indicate that he had lacerations on his wrists (presumably from the handcuffs) and hands, and a small abrasion on his forehead. However, in the hospital, he was monitored for mental health issues and not for physical injury.
• On March 27, 2013, Mr. McGee fell in the bathroom of his apartment and was discovered in an unconscious state by his wife.
• Emergency Medical Services were called and he was found to have sustained a large contusion on his forehead. He was vital signs absent.
• Mr. McGee was confirmed deceased after arrival at Guelph General Hospital.
• A subsequent post-mortem examination concluded the cause of death was due to post-traumatic seizure disorder. The pathologist who performed the autopsy added, “The most common mechanisms of death are cardiac arrhythmia and central apnea.”
Director Scott said, “In my view, the subject officers had the authority to enter Mr. McGee’s residence and arrest him on the basis of the complaint by the common-law wife. Given his known history of mental disorder, the common-law wife’s assertion of a threat coupled with his access to weapons, and his failure to show both his hands, it was a reasonable use of force to take him to the ground for the purpose of applying handcuffs to his wrists. The fact that there were lacerations on his wrists and one on his forehead would appear to be relatively minor injuries and unrelated to his hospital admission on March 21, 2013. He was released the next day. On the basis of the conclusions in the post-mortem examination, I am of the view that Mr. McGee’s demise on March 27th, 2013 was unrelated to his involvement and apprehension by members of the GPS and WRPS on March 21, 2013.”
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.
Jasbir Dhillon, 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