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News Release

SIU Director Concludes Charges Unwarranted in Death of Immigration Detainee

Case Number: 15-OCD-118

Mississauga, ON (15 July, 2016) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit has concluded that no charges are reasonable in the death of man who was under guard at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre awaiting deportation.

The SIU assigned five investigators and two forensic investigators to carefully examine the circumstances of this incident.  

The two subject officers did not provide copies of their duty notes, as is their legal right.  Subject officer #1 did not participate in an SIU interview, as is the officer’s legal right.  Subject officer #2 did provide an interview to the SIU.   

One witness officer and four civilian witnesses were interviewed as part of this investigation. 

The SIU investigation determined the following:
  • On June 10, 2015, subject officer #1 (with the Peterborough Police Service) and subject officer #2 (with the Ontario Provincial Police) accepted a paid duty assignment at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre. The duty entailed guarding a refugee claimant who was in the custody of the Canadian Border Services Agency and awaiting deportation.  The 39-year-old man suffered from significant mental health issues, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
  • Between 10:30 p.m. and 10:45 p.m., the two officers, five nurses, and three security guards entered the “isolation room” where the man was being held.  They were attempting to sedate the man, who had been smearing his feces on the bed, his face, his forehead, and his arms.  He had also been ingesting feces and clumps of his own hair. 
  • Subject officer #2 was instructed by a nurse to hold a towel to the man’s mouth to prevent him from biting and spitting.  While the security guards held down the man’s legs, subject officer #1 held his left arm and subject officer #2 used the towel to block the man’s mouth and force his head down. 
  • The sedative was successfully administered and the man went to sleep within five minutes. 
  • Around 1:00 a.m., the two subject officers and four nurses entered the room in order to clean the room. The man awoke. Again, he ingested feces and threw it about the room. 
  • Subject officer #1 held down the man’s left arm to prevent him from throwing anything else.  Subject officer #2 used a towel in the same manner as before, to cover the man’s mouth and hold his head against the bed. 
  • While being restrained, the man kicked, hit, and grabbed at the nurses who were attempting to clean him and his bedding.  Suddenly, the man stopped moving. It was determined that he was without vital signs and resuscitation efforts were performed.
  • He was pronounced dead at 1:30 a.m.  

SIU Director Tony Loparco said, “The issue that I need to determine is whether or not the actions of either of the subject officers were a significant contributing cause of the man’s death. My conclusion is that neither officer did anything that could reasonably satisfy the essential offence element of causation. 

“First, subject officer #1 was limited to restraining the man’s left arm while the nurses attempted to clean him and the room. There is absolutely no basis to conclude that holding onto the man’s arm had any adverse effect whatsoever on his wellbeing.  As such, no charges will issue with respect to subject officer #1. 

“The actions of subject officer #2 require a more detailed analysis of the facts and medical evidence. Subject officer #2 held the man’s head down by placing a towel over his mouth. This raises the concern that he may have been unable to breathe, which in turn led to his demise. The available evidence does not support that conclusion. The towel was placed over his mouth, but his nose was unobstructed and no force was applied to his throat. Moreover, the man was audibly snorting through his nose and yelling through the towel during the exchange. This is indicative of him having no difficulty breathing. Further, although a post-mortem examination could not definitely pinpoint a cause of death, it explicitly excluded mechanical asphyxiation as a cause of death. There was no medical evidence of any obstruction of the man’s airway, nor was there any evidence of pressure having been exerted on his neck or chest. 

“As such, I cannot reasonably conclude the actions of subject officer #2 contributed in a significant way to the man’s death. As such, no charges will issue with respect to subject officer #2.”

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 1863