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News Release

SIU Concludes Toronto Death Investigation

Case Number: 15-TCD-194

Mississauga, ON (26 September, 2016) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Tony Loparco, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against a Toronto Police Service officer in relation to the death of a 46-year-old man in September of 2015 in downtown Toronto.  

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

The SIU interviewed 19 civilian witnesses and seven witness officers. The subject officer participated in an SIU interview and provided a copy of his duty notes.
 
The Unit’s investigation also included review of post-mortem and toxicology results. Ambulance call reports, CCTV footage from nearby buildings and video recordings taken by bystanders were also obtained. 

The SIU investigation found the following:
  • In the evening hours of September 1, 2015, a number of civilians called 911 to report the actions of a man who had caused a disturbance in a restaurant, proceeded to lay on the sidewalk and scream, and who then rose to his feet and went headfirst into a street sign pole on Yonge Street. 
  • When Toronto Police Service officers arrived, they found the man lying face down in the passing lane on Yonge Street. There was blood on the back of his head and he was nonresponsive. As one of the officers assisted the man in standing up, the man appeared to regain consciousness and was able to walk under his own power towards the sidewalk. 
  • The officers managed to briefly get the man into a semi-seated position with his back against the wall of a building. During this brief period, the man was sweating profusely and exhibiting tremendous strength. The subject officer decided that it was necessary to affect an apprehension pursuant to the Mental Health Act. 
  • The man suddenly darted forwards towards Yonge Street. The subject officer responded by pulling downwards on his arm while extending his own leg outward to trip him. The two men fell to the ground. Other officers assisted in handcuffing the man.
  • After being handcuffed, the man suddenly became very quiet. He was rolled onto his side into the recovery position and a combination of vomit and mucus was seen coming from his mouth. Once paramedics arrived, the man was placed onto a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance. Resuscitation efforts were commenced, and he was transported to Toronto General Hospital. 
  • The man was pronounced dead in hospital.

A subsequent post-mortem examination, aided by toxicological analysis of the man’s blood, concluded that the cause of death was sudden cardiac arrest in a man who was engaged in an active struggle, was agitated and was labouring under acute cocaine and methamphetamine intoxication. The pathologist also noted that the man had sustained a number of fractures to his ribs, but attributed those injuries to resuscitation efforts. 

Director Loparco said, “There is no basis to impugn the actions of the subject officer, or any of the members of the Toronto Police Service on scene that evening. After a review of the post-mortem examination, I am confident in concluding that the man died as a result of a cardiac arrest set into motion by his abuse of illegal drugs. His highly erratic behaviour, incomprehensible speech, unprovoked aggression and physical symptoms are all indicative of drug-induced delirium. While engaging in a physical struggle with the subject officer may have played a role in his death, it was not a significant contributing cause. The post-mortem report indicated that restraint-related asphyxia was not a likely contributing cause of death.” 

Director Loparco concluded, “Neither the subject officer, nor any of the other officers present, applied any degree of force that could serve as a conceivable causal explanation for the man’s death. There is no basis to conclude that the officers were anything less than professional and responsive when dealing with the man. Consequently, no charges will issue.”

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