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News Release

SIU Concludes Barrie Investigation

Case Number: 07-OCI-187

TORONTO (5 December, 2007) ---  James Cornish, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded that a Barrie Police Service (BPS) officer was not criminally responsible for the serious injuries to a 41-year-old man.

On September 11, 2007, Thomas Saunders was struck by a distraction device and suffered a serious wound to his arm during a police raid at his apartment. Mr. Saunders was released from the hospital two days later. On November 13, the BPS notified the SIU that Mr. Saunders had died on November 10, 2007. Toxicology tests are pending to determine an exact cause of death. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Saunders' death was related to the arm injury he sustained on September 11.
The SIU investigation determined that on September 11, at approximately 1:30 a.m., 15 BPS officers executed a search warrant at 89 Toronto Street in Barrie. The officers entered the home from the rear and used distraction devices as they entered. They identified themselves as police officers and yelled, "Search warrant, get down." Once the main floor was secured, a team of officers made their way to the second floor. They knew several occupants had fled to a second floor bedroom and found the bedroom door barricaded shut. Tactical officers kicked the door down and threw a "flash bang" device into the room.

There were four people, including Mr. Saunders, inside the room. Mr. Saunders was lying on the ground when the device landed on his arm and detonated. The officers entered the room and started to provide emergency aid to Mr. Saunders. The paramedics, who were on stand-by near the scene, immediately transported him to Royal Victoria Hospital where he was treated for his arm injury.

Having reviewed the available evidence, Director Cornish said, "Distraction devices are intended to cause a physiological effect by causing a temporary involuntary shutdown of cognitive motor functions. The secondary function of the device is to cause a distraction, to allow the entry team to advance with less resistance. As seen on the evidence in this case, these devices can cause serious injury and thus must be used responsibly." The Director concluded, "There is no evidence to support a notion that these devices were deliberately used to harm anyone nor is there sufficient evidence to support the notion that the device was used in a criminally negligent fashion. The officers intended this "flash bang" device to land on the floor and go off causing no injury, just distraction. The injury in this case was the unintended result of the use of reasonable force in the execution of a search warrant."

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. 

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