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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Death of Man in London

Case Number: 15-OCD-029

Mississauga (3 September, 2015) --- The Acting Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Joseph Martino, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a London Police Service officer with any criminal offence in relation to the death of 26-year-old Aaron Ferkranus in February of 2015.

The SIU assigned four investigators and one forensic investigator to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, multiple video recordings were analyzed, and 13 civilian witnesses and one witness officer were interviewed. The subject officer did not participate in an SIU interview and did not provide a copy of her duty notes, as is her legal right.

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Saturday, February 14 and Sunday February 15, 2015:
• In the early morning hours of February 14, Mr. Ferkranus and another individual were involved in an altercation outside the Robinson Hall nightclub on Talbot Street. Mr. Ferkranus had struck and seriously injured a male individual, and security guards from the establishment intervened to detain him on the ground pending the arrival of police. Mr. Ferkranus struggled vigorously to free himself while on the ground. The security guards responded with several knee strikes to Mr. Ferkranus’ legs, but mostly used their superior manpower to keep him pinned to the ground. Though Mr. Ferkranus’ resistance appears to have all but subsided within minutes of being grounded, the security personnel thought it best to keep him on the ground given the power and violence Mr. Ferkranus had just demonstrated. They began to grow concerned for his health, however, and checked to ensure that Mr. Ferkranus was still breathing while they waited for the police. 
• Approximately ten minutes after the altercation between Mr. Ferkranus and the other individual, the subject officer arrived and arrested Mr. Ferkranus for assault. While attempting to lift him from the ground, it became apparent that Mr. Ferkranus was unresponsive and having trouble breathing. Mr. Ferkranus was placed on his left side in the recovery position. 
• Paramedics responded within minutes, loaded Mr. Ferkranus into the ambulance and attempted to resuscitate him without success when he went vital signs absent.
• Mr. Ferkranus was transported to hospital where he died the following day.

The cause of Mr. Ferkranus’ death could not be determined at the autopsy conducted on February 16, 2015 and remains unknown at this time as more detailed medical examinations are ongoing.

Acting Director Martino said, “While the precise cause of Mr. Ferkranus’ death is unclear to this day, I am satisfied the issue has no ultimate bearing on whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the  subject officer committed a criminal offence in connection with this unfortunate series of events.  In my view, those grounds do not exist.

“The offences that arise for consideration are failure to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing death, contrary to sections 215 and 220 of the Criminal Code, respectively. Both offences are predicated on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. For starters, there is little doubt that the subject officer acted lawfully in arresting Mr. Ferkranus for assault and handcuffing his hands behind his back. Mr. Ferkranus had seriously assaulted another person, sending his victim to hospital, and that information was brought to the officer’s attention by the security personnel. When it became apparent that Mr. Ferkranus could not stand and his breathing was laboured, the officer moved quickly to put a rush on the arrival of an ambulance. In the meantime, the evidence suggests the officer felt for a pulse and found one. It is important to note that another officer at the scene and the treating paramedics also confirmed that Mr. Ferkranus had a pulse and was still breathing. In fact, the evidence indicates that Mr. Ferkranus first lost vital signs only after being lodged in the ambulance.”

Acting Director Martino concluded, “In the circumstances, it is difficult to see what more, if anything, the subject officer could have done in the short period of time she had custody over Mr. Ferkranus prior to the arrival of the paramedics – approximately eight minutes - to avert or mitigate the medical crisis that was unfolding. Accordingly, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the officer discharged the duty of care she owed Mr. Ferkranus with due regard for his health and wellbeing, and that her conduct fell within the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law.”    

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