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News Release

SIU Investigation into Man’s Death Finds Charges Not Warranted

Case Number: 16-TOD-001

Mississauga, ON (27 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 32-year-old man in January of 2016 in Toronto.  

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

The SIU interviewed six civilian witnesses and eight witness officers. The subject officer provided a copy of her duty notes, but did not participate in an SIU interview, as is her legal right.
The Unit’s investigation also included a review of post-mortem and toxicology results. The communications recordings from TPS were obtained. 

The SIU investigation found the following:
  • In the early morning hours of January 1, 2016, 911 received several frantic calls from the 32-year-old man in which he alleged both attempted break and enters into his residence, as well as home invasions. The calls came in at 1:58 a.m., 3:13 a.m. and 5:41 a.m. After each call, officers were dispatched to the home. Each time, officers inspected the perimeter of the home and found it to be secure. Officers also walked through the home to confirm that no one was present. After the third call, the two officers who attended the residence noticed that the man was obviously sweating. He indicated that it was because he had recently been sick. Aside from this, the man appeared to be normal.  
  • The man called 911 a fourth time at approximately 8:47 a.m. During this call, he seemed to be conversing with someone else who was present, uttering phrases to the effect of ‘get out of my house’ and ‘I will give you whatever you want’. However, no other voice could be heard by the 911 operator. The phone line then disconnected. The man called two more times.
  • A number of officers were dispatched to the residence. One of the officers knocked on the door of the residence several times but received no response. She looked through the windows but did not see anyone inside. She also called out to the man but to no avail. 
  • The subject officer attended the residence and was apprised of the man’s multiple 911 calls, his interactions with several police officers and the previous conclusion of other officers that, while the man seemed paranoid, his behavior did not warrant an apprehension under the Mental Health Act. Officers canvassed the neighbourhood for anyone who might be able to assist in contacting the man.
  • The man contacted 911 four further times, at 9:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 9:38 a.m. and 9:57 a.m. During those calls he indicated that he was locked in the basement of his home and that people were trying to ‘bomb’ him. During his last call, he advised that there was a male in the basement with him, and requested that an officer break a window in order to gain entry.
  • As a result of the neighbourhood canvass, the subject officer was able to make contact with the man’s father at approximately 10:30 a.m. It was confirmed that the man resided in the residence which was owned by his parents. According to police witnesses, the subject officer asked the father if police could forcibly enter the residence, but the request was denied. Instead, the father came himself to open the door, which involved travel time of approximately 40 minutes. He, along with the officers, entered the house at 11:09 a.m. and found the man’s body lying on the floor, barricaded in the basement. He had no pulse and so officers immediately commenced resuscitation efforts and requested emergency medical services. Paramedics arrived on scene at approximately 11:15 a.m. and confirmed that the man was not exhibiting any vital signs. 
The post-mortem examination, aided by a toxicological report, concluded that the cause of death was cocaine toxicity.

Director Loparco said, “It is clear that as soon as the man’s body was discovered, the officers responded promptly and professionally. Resuscitation efforts were commenced, and paramedics were immediately contacted to provide emergency medical assistance. The only issue that I need to consider is whether or not the subject officer’s decision to refrain from forcibly entering the residence provides grounds to charge her with a criminal offence, namely, criminal negligence causing death, contrary to section 220 of the Criminal Code

“The subject officer decided not to have officers force their way into the home. In assessing the potential liability for criminal negligence causing death, one must consider what information the officer had at her disposal when she made her decision. The officer had been advised of the multiple 911 calls that the man had made over the preceding seven and one-half hours. She was informed that the man had spoken to police, that the residence had been searched for intruders with negative results, that the man had exhibited signs of paranoia and that there were insufficient grounds to affect a Mental Health Act apprehension.” 

Director Loparco continued, “The man’s multiple unfounded claims throughout the night would have undermined the reliability of his claim of a home invasion and his imminent harm. This in turn would have detracted from the exigency of the circumstances which could have justified a warrantless entry pursuant to section 487.11 of the Criminal Code. There was also no objective evidence that the man was in a state of medical distress. Officers found him to be paranoid and sweating, but there were no indicators of the man having sustained an injury or expressing a desire to harm himself. Moreover, the man’s last 911 call at 9:57 a.m. would have served as confirmation that he was not in medical distress. 

“The subject officer’s decision to contact the man’s father in lieu of breaking into the house was reasonable in the circumstances. As such, it could not possibly satisfy the fault requirement for a charge of criminal negligence causing death, that being a marked and substantial departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. She exercised her discretion within the confines of her duty and the law. The man’s death does not attract any criminal liability, and as such, 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,
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342