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News Release

SIU Finds Officers Not Responsible in Fire that Killed Two Family Members

Case Number: 15-OCD-142

Mississauga (12 January, 2016) ---
An SIU investigation into the deaths of a son and mother during a fire inside a Vineland-area home has ended with the Director of the SIU concluding there are no reasonable grounds to believe any officer committed a criminal offence.  

The SIU had assigned three investigators and two forensic investigators to investigate the circumstances of this incident.  That investigation found the following:
  • Just before 8:30 p.m. on July 5, 2015, Niagara Regional Police officers were dispatched to a home on Epp Street in Vineland.  They were responding to a domestic dispute.
  • Two officers arrived and immediately heard screams from inside the house. 
  • Upon entering, the officers encountered a 50-year-old man standing in the living room beside his 73-year-old mother, who was in a wheelchair.
  • Within seconds of the officers entering the home, the man ignited gasoline that had been poured out in the room.
  • The first officer attempted to rescue the woman but he slipped and fell to the floor, and his body caught fire.
  • The officers managed to escape the burning home and extinguish the flames on the first officer’s body. 
  • Both the man and woman died of acute smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • The officer who caught fire was hospitalized with severe burns.

Director Loparco said, “Neither officer is in any way responsible for the fire which took the lives of the mother and son.   It is also evident that the officers had no chance to intervene to prevent this destructive act.  They were unaware that they were entering an extremely dangerous situation and had barely set foot inside the home when the man, located several feet away from the officers, set it ablaze.  

“In the final analysis, the man is alone to blame for his death and the death of his mother, as well as the injuries to the officers, especially the first officer, whose heroic efforts to save the woman left him with permanent injuries.”

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. 

Jason Gennaro
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342