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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation in Toronto Custody Death

Case Number: 14-TCD-032

Mississauga (22 August, 2014) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge any Toronto Police Service (TPS) officer with a criminal offence in relation to the death of a 51-year-old man in February of this year.

The SIU assigned seven investigators and four forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, seven witness officers and seven civilian witnesses were interviewed. Two officers were designated as subject officers. Both officers consented to interviews and provided the SIU with a copy of their duty notes.  The SIU also obtained and reviewed in-car camera video captured by a police cruiser on the ground.

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Monday February 3, 2014:

  • That morning TPS officers attended a sixth floor apartment unit at 238 Bonis Avenue in relation to a domestic call. 
  • Two witness officers arrived at the scene and entered the apartment where they found the man in the kitchen holding a knife in his right hand.  The knife was covered in blood and the man was bleeding from the neck.  
  • The officers implored the man to drop the knife but he paid no heed, at one point raising the knife to his throat apparently inflicting further injury to his neck.   
  • At 10:15 a.m. the first subject officer arrived at the scene following a request for a Cantonese-speaking officer. The subject officer spoke to the man in Cantonese and pleaded in vain for him to drop the knife.  
  • The subject officer extended his baton intending to knock the knife out of the man’s hand. 
  • By this time, the second subject officer, who was equipped with a conducted energy weapon (CEW), had arrived at the scene. This subject officer instructed all the police officers to clear the area and then deployed his CEW in the man’s direction.  The CEW probes missed the target and the man ventured out onto the balcony from the kitchen.  
  • The man climbed over the glass partition and stood on the balcony’s edge holding onto the railing, the knife still in his right hand.  
  • The officers continued to speak to the man through the kitchen’s balcony door as the man variously crouched and moved from side-to-side. 
  • Fearing the man was about to jump, the first subject officer moved out onto the balcony in an attempt to grab hold of him.  
  • The man fell from the balcony at about this time to the ground below.  
  • A witness officer rendered first aid attempting to stem the flow of blood from the man’s neck until the arrival of paramedics.  
  • The man was taken to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre where he was pronounced dead shortly after 11:00 a.m.

Director Loparco concluded, “There are no reasonable grounds, in my view, to believe that the subject officers committed a criminal offence in connection with the man’s death. By all accounts, it appears the man was intent on harming himself on the morning in question and that his fall was the culmination of those efforts.  The officers on scene did what they could to save him.  They spoke with him in English and Cantonese attempting to bring the situation to a peaceful resolution.  When it appeared words alone were not going to get it done, a CEW was deployed in the hope of immobilizing the man.  Regrettably, the CEW missed its target and the man climbed over the balcony railing.  Here again the officers tried to cajole him from the precipice, but he remained undeterred.  Sensing the man was about to jump, one of the subject officers rushed onto the balcony in an effort to grab hold of one of his arms.” 

Director Loparco continued, “Did the man slip and fall?  Did he intentionally jump? The evidence, including the video recording of the fall captured by a police cruiser camera, is inconclusive.   What is clear on the evidence is that the officers acted reasonably throughout and did nothing other than to try to avert the tragedy that ultimately materialized.”

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, jasbir.dhillon@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342