SIU Concludes Death Investigation in Port Elgin
Case Number: 13-OCD-141
Mississauga (2 May, 2014) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge any Saugeen Shores Police Service (SSPS) officers with any criminal offence in relation to the death of a 46 year-old man in June of last year.
The SIU assigned four investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, two witness officers were designated and 10 civilian witnesses were interviewed. The SIU also designated three subject officers, of whom one participated in an interview. Two subject officers did not provide their notes or participate in an interview, as is their legal right.
The evidence gathered by the SIU suggests the following series of events leading to the man’s death:
• At approximately 10:45pm on June 21, 2013, the man broke into a neighbour’s residence on Oakwood Drive.
• The man, confused and behaving aggressively, was confronted by the homeowner and an altercation between the two men ensued.
• Officers with the SSPS attended the residence in relation to this disturbance.
• Two officers, with the assistance of the homeowner, attempted to bring the man under control and place him under arrest but due to his strenuous resistance were unable to place him in handcuffs.
• A third officer arrived shortly after and joined in the fray. Acting in concert, they were able to overpower the man, turning his body on its side and then in a prone position, at which point the man’s arms were handcuffed behind his back. At about the same time, the man fell into acute medical distress, went limp and stopped breathing.
• Despite the efforts of SSPS officers and attending paramedics, he could not be revived and was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The pathologist at autopsy concluded that the man’s death was a “Sudden death associated with Excited Delirium and Prone Restraint”.
Director Loparco said, “The officers were clearly in the discharge of their duties when they responded to the residence and attempted to physically subdue the man. For reasons beyond his control, the man was experiencing an acute manic episode and was a clear and present threat to the health and safety of the home’s residents. In light of his aggression and level of resistance, it is apparent to me that the officers used no more force than was reasonably necessary in the circumstances. It is noteworthy that none of the officers, according to the eyewitness evidence, actually struck the man or used any of their weapons. Rather, it would appear they relied on their muscular force in what was essentially a wrestling contest to eventually secure his arms in handcuffs. As soon as it became apparent that the man had stopped breathing, they rolled him on his back and quickly applied CPR, continuing in their efforts until the paramedics arrived. I am satisfied in these circumstances that the officers were justified in their use of force. I am further satisfied that the officers were alive to the dangers of positional asphyxia and acted promptly to mitigate those risks as soon as it was reasonably feasible to do so.”
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.
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342