SIU Concludes Investigation into Custody Death in Kawartha Lakes
Case Number: 08-OCD-103
"The officers involved used minimal force in detaining Mr. Stevens," SIU Director James Cornish determined.
On June 8, 2008, officers were called to the Admiral Inn at 1754 Highway 7 in Lindsay to investigate reports of a man ransacking two rooms. The damage included a broken lamp and toilet, blinds pulled off the window and numerous blood-covered items scattered about the rooms. Mr. Stevens was arrested without incident; however, shortly after being handcuffed, he went into medical distress. The arresting officers performed CPR until the arrival of paramedics and the fire department, but Mr. Stevens was pronounced dead at the scene. A post-mortem examination found no anatomical cause of death, pending toxicology results.
Mr. Stevens appeared to be suffering an adverse reaction to some drugs while being arrested, and the officers called an ambulance before they proceeded to detain him. Mr. Stevens was observed foaming at the mouth, talking to the wall and making nonsensical comments.
Mr. Cornish concluded: "Upon securing Mr. Stevens in handcuffs, the officers, who were aware of the risks associated with positional asphyxia, placed Mr. Stevens in a seated recovery position. When they saw that he was not breathing and that vital signs were absent, the officers immediately removed the handcuffs and began administering CPR. They also made a second call for an ambulance, indicating the urgency of the situation. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the officers and EMS personnel, Mr. Stevens did not survive."
The SIU assigned three field investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the circumstances surrounding Mr. Stevens' death. Two subject officers provided statements; two witness officers as well as six civilian witnesses were interviewed. SIU investigators also studied copies of 9-1-1 calls and communications tapes containing officer radio transmissions
"While this investigation has been closed without final toxicology results, the weight of the evidence, in my view, strongly suggests that Mr. Stevens' death was not due to any undue force applied by the officers," Mr. Cornish concluded.
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.