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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Drowning Death of Man in Ottawa

Case Number: 15-OCD-130

Mississauga (28 August, 2015) --- The Acting Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Joseph Martino, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge any Ottawa Police Service (OPS) officer with a criminal offence in relation to the death of 23-year-old Muhab Sultan in June of 2015.

The SIU assigned four investigators and one forensic investigator to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, six civilian witnesses and four witness officers were interviewed. Statements from additional civilian witnesses were reviewed, as were notes from several other officers. Both subject officers participated in SIU interviews and provided a copy of their duty notes.

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Wednesday, June 24, 2015:
• A green Toyota being operated by Mr. Sultan struck an OPS officer on his bicycle as the officer and his partner were questioning Mr. Sultan and an associate on Cumberland Street. Mr. Sultan was wanted by police as the suspect in the murder of a young man in London. Mr. Sultan fled from the scene in the Toyota.
• When officers finally caught up with the vehicle, they managed to arrest his passenger but Mr. Sultan was able to flee on foot. He took refuge in the shed of a backyard on a residential property on Marlborough Avenue, but left when the homeowner discovered him and called police. From his hideout on Marlborough Avenue, Mr. Sultan travelled east across a property on Range Road and then to the west bank of the Rideau River where he entered the water. 
• A number of officers arrived in the area and were alerted to Mr. Sultan’s presence in the nearby river by his screams for help. Mr. Sultan was about half way to the other side when he began to have difficulties in the water. The subject officers tried to save him by swimming to his location. However, Mr. Sultan disappeared under the water before they could reach him. 

Mr. Sultan’s body was recovered on June 27, 2015, downstream from the location in the river where he was last seen. The pathologist at autopsy ascribed Mr. Sultan’s death to drowning pending the results of histological and toxicological testing. 

Acting Director Martino said, “There is no basis on this record to reasonably conclude that the subject officers committed a criminal offence in connection with Mr. Sultan’s death. Indeed, they acted valiantly by jumping into the river in an effort to save Mr. Sultan from drowning. They were tantalizingly close to reaching him before he dipped out of sight below the water’s surface. The officers remained in the river for a period of time and dove underwater to search for Mr. Sultan, but the water’s murkiness made the effort a futile one. In the circumstances, I am satisfied that Mr. Sultan’s death is the product of his own misadventure, and very likely the result of an ill-advised decision to enter the water in an effort to avoid police apprehension – a decision for which he alone is to blame.”    

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