No Criminal Wrongdoing in Midland Death Case
Case Number: 16-OCD-138
Other News Releases Related to Case 16-OCD-138
(21 October, 2016) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Tony Loparco, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against a Midland Police Service (MPS) officer in relation to the death of a 44-year-old man in June.
Four investigators and three forensic investigators were assigned to this incident.
The SIU interviewed two civilian witnesses and three witness officers. A copy of the duty notes were provided by the subject officer, but the subject officer did not participate in an SIU interview, as is the legal right.
The Unit’s investigation also included the review of a telephone conversation between the subject officer and the man, and between the man’s wife and the 911 operator. A rifle found at the scene was also collected.
The SIU investigation found the following:
- At approximately 4 p.m. on June 1, 2016, the subject officer phoned the 44-year-old man at his home to inform him that he was facing criminal jeopardy in relation to an incident that occurred the year before. The man was invited to attend the police station, and was told he would be allowed to return home afterwards.
- At approximately 4:45 p.m., the man sent a text message to his wife. He advised her of the conversation with MPS, and wrote that he would be taking his own life as he could not face going to jail.
- The man’s wife immediately relayed this information to MPS and told them where he could be found.
- Members of the MPS, including the subject officer, were dispatched to Pete Pettersen Park in order to search for the man. They found the man’s body next to a rifle. The man had sustained a gunshot wound to his chest.
- Paramedics arrived and pronounced that the man was dead.
Director Loparco said, “The offence that warrants consideration in these circumstances is criminal negligence causing death contrary to section 220 of the Criminal Code. When the subject officer contacted the man to advise him of the criminal investigation, the officer set into motion a series of events that resulted in the man electing to take his own life. But for the subject officer advising him of the criminal jeopardy the man faced, he would not have killed himself. In that sense, the component of factual causation is satisfied. However, that still leaves the requisite inquiry concerning legal causation.
“Legal causation is a normative inquiry that is concerned with whether a person who has factually caused a death should be held criminally liable for the outcome. While distinct from the criminal fault requirement, the proper standard of causation expresses an element of fault that is sufficient to ground liability. Such fault cannot be attributed in this case because the outcome of the man taking his own life was not reasonably foreseeable. Put simply, the man’s suicide was such a remote possibility that fault cannot be properly attributed to the subject officer. The subject officer did not cause the man’s death in a legal sense, and consequently there are no reasonable grounds to believe an offence had been committed.”
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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Monica Hudon, firstname.lastname@example.org
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342