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News Release

SIU Concludes Death Investigation in Kawartha Lakes; No Further Action Contemplated

Case Number: 15-PCD-109

Mississauga, ON (29 March, 2016) ---
There is no reasonable basis to charge the subject officer in the death of a man in Ontario Provincial Police custody in Kawartha Lakes last June, stated the Director of the Special Investigations Unit. 

The SIU assigned three investigators and one forensic investigator to probe the circumstances of this incident.
 
The subject officer in this investigation participated in an SIU interview and also provided a copy of his duty notes.  The SIU interviewed six witness officers and four civilian witnesses.  Evidence also included cell video recordings and a lengthy prisoner report.

The investigation found the following:
  • Around 2:30 p.m. on May 31, 2015, two OPP officers were called to a residence in Kawartha Lakes.  There, the officers arrested a 62-year-old man for breach of the peace.  
  • The man was released unconditionally to a shelter but he was arrested moments later and charged with cause disturbance.
  • He was taken to the OPP Kawartha Lakes Detachment after 6:00 p.m. and placed in a cell.
  • Close to 3:30 a.m. on June 1, 2015, the man attempted to sit on a bench in his cell but fell and struck his chin on the cell toilet.  He was transported to Ross Memorial Hospital and treated for a cut on his chin.
  • He was released from police custody around 7:00 a.m.
  • Later that day, the man was found unconscious on the back porch of his mother’s home.  He was taken to hospital again, where he was pronounced dead on the evening of June 2, 2015.
  • A post-mortem concluded the man died of a subdural hematoma (brain injury). 

SIU Director Tony Loparco said, “Falls were not uncommon for the man. He had a medical condition and used a cane for balance, but still fell with some frequency according to his mother, family friends, and an officer who had responded to some of the resulting requests for assistance.

“The offence that arises for consideration in this matter is failure to provide the necessaries of life contrary to s. 215 of the Criminal Code. While the man was in police custody, the subject officer had a duty to ensure that he received medical care and other services necessary to preserve his life and prevent any permanent damage to his health. A conviction under s. 215 requires that the officer breached this duty in such a manner as to amount to a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have provided in the circumstances.

“By all accounts, the subject officer and the other officers and civilian staff who came into contact with the man provided prudent and diligent attention to him while he was in police custody.  He was fed dinner and encouraged to take his medication.  Due to careful monitoring and a prompt response, the man received timely medical attention for his chin injury. Notably, none of the trained medical staff at the hospital found any indication that the man had a brain injury when he was being treated for the cut chin. In fact, one cannot say with any certainty that the subdural hematoma he suffered was the result of a fall in the cell.  It is also plausible that the man injured himself when he fell in the garage later that morning or on the porch that afternoon.

“In the final analysis, the man’s death was the result of an unfortunate accident for which the subject officer bears no criminal responsibility.  As a result there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges against the subject officer.”

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. 

Lisez ce communiqué en français.

Jason Gennaro, jason.gennaro@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-641-1897 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 1897