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News Release

No Charges after Man who Drove Car through Several Toronto Backyards Dies

Case Number: 15-TCD-133

Mississauga, ON (22 September, 2016) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Tony Loparco, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against any Toronto Police Service officer in relation to the death of a 33-year-old man in July of 2015.  

Six investigators and four forensic investigators were assigned to this incident.

The SIU interviewed 11 civilian witnesses and four witness officers. All four subject officers participated in SIU interviews and each officer provided a copy of his or her duty notes.
 
The Unit’s investigation also included a scale diagram of the scene, as well as review of communication tapes. Samples collected during the man’s post-mortem examination were submitted to the Centre of Forensic Sciences for toxicological analysis. The ASP batons carried by all the subject officers were also submitted for analysis.

The SIU investigation found the following:
  • At approximately 1:45 a.m. on July 1, 2015, the Toronto Police Service received a number of calls concerning a large-scale disturbance in the area of Earnscliffe Road and Oakwood Avenue. Residents reported that a motor vehicle had driven through the backyards of several adjacent properties and caused significant property damage. 
  • Several officers, including the four subject officers, attended the scene.
  • At approximately 2:15 a.m., in the backyard of a nearby home behind the garage, subject officers #1, #2, and #3, along with a police service dog, located the man who they had cause to believe was the offending driver. He was bleeding profusely from a head wound, and was agitated, sweating, grunting, breathing heavily and appeared uncoordinated. 
  • The officers made a series of verbal demands, including ‘stop’ and ‘get down’. The man was noncompliant and combative, swinging his arms wildly at the officers. When the man picked something off the ground, subject officers #2 and #3 drew their firearms. Realizing the object that had been picked up appeared to be a rock, subject officer #2 holstered his firearm and drew his extendable baton. The man threw the object in the direction of the officers and then jumped over the fence into the adjacent backyard. Subject officers #2 and #3 followed the man over the fence, and were joined by subject officer #4. Once in the adjacent yard, the man picked up a large wooden garden stake and threw it at the officers. After doing so, he lost his balance and fell into the garden area. He continued to be highly resistant to the officers’ efforts to arrest him and a struggle ensued. Another officer arrived and engaged in the altercation. Eventually, they succeeded in handcuffing the man and rolling him onto his back.
  • Because of a head wound the man had sustained, the officers called for Emergency Medical Services. Paramedics arrived and found the man was not exhibiting any vital signs. Soon after, it was determined the man had suffered a cardiac arrest. They began resuscitation efforts and transported the man to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
  • He was pronounced dead at approximately 3:05 a.m. 

The post-mortem examination ultimately concluded that the cause of death was a fatal cardiac arrhythmia indicative of cocaine intoxication by an individual with chronic heart disease and a history of anabolic steroid use. The toxicology report indicated that the man had consumed cocaine and tamoxifen. 

Director Loparco said, “There are no reasonable grounds in my view to believe that any officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the man’s arrest and injuries. After reviewing the post-mortem report, I am satisfied the man died as a result of a cardiac arrest set into motion by his abuse of illegal drugs. His highly erratic and dangerous driving, apparent disassociated state, aggressive behaviour and other physical symptoms are all indicative of having consumed a significant quantity of cocaine. While the struggle that the man engaged in with the subject officers may have played a role in his cardiac arrest, in my view it was not a significant contributing cause of his death. Moreover, none of the subject officers applied any degree of force that they knew would result in death, or bodily harm likely to cause death. Accordingly there are no reasonable and probable grounds to support any charge emanating from the man’s death.”

Director Loparco added, “Two lacerations on the left side of the man’s head are consistent with closed strikes from a police-issued extendable baton. That being said, a closed baton strike to the head would not necessarily be unreasonable in the circumstances of this arrest. The man was a large and powerful individual who had consumed cocaine, and was both combative and noncompliant. Although brief, the struggle surrounding the arrest was difficult and required four officers to resolve. In addition, these were simple lacerations in that there was no skull fracture or associated brain injury. They were not fatal to the man, nor were they a significant contributing cause of his death.” 

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