SIU Terminates Re-opened Kenora Investigation into Death of Man
Case Number: 18-POD-066
Other News Releases Related to Case 18-POD-066
(25 October, 2019) ---
At approximately 7 a.m. on March 5, 2018, paramedics and Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers responded to the Washagamis Bay residence of a 29-year-old man due to him being in medical distress. The man was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later. The SIU opened a file at that time and commenced an investigation based on information of an allegation that the man had been assaulted by OPP officers in Kenora about a week prior to his death. A post-mortem examination was conducted and revealed no serious injury, including no recent or visible fractures. The pathologist advised that the healing fractures that did exist had occurred weeks to months, and not days, before the man’s death. This opinion effectively eliminated the assault that had allegedly been perpetrated by OPP officers on the man as the cause of the fractured ribs. The cause of death was determined to be acute pneumonia. As such, the investigation was terminated on April 9, 2018.
On May 29, 2019, the SIU was advised by the coroner’s office that the pathologist’s opinion regarding the age of the healed rib fractures was pegged at between three to six days in the Report of Postmortem Examination, dated October 12, 2018. This differed from the pathologist’s preliminary view and generally lined up with the evidence of when the assault against the man was reported to have occurred. As a result, the SIU reopened the investigation. Consequently, police witnesses were identified and interviewed.
By way of an addendum to the Report of Postmortem Examination, dated September 5, 2019, the pathologist adjusted the opinion regarding the age of the healed rib fractures in question following additional testing that had been performed. As set out in the addendum, the pathologist was of the view that “[t]hat there is no evidence of any fresh fractures (recent rib fractures) or any convincing evidence of healing fractures. There is some thickening of the periosteum in some sections compatible with healed fractures. These injuries occurred weeks prior to death.”
Interim Director Joseph Martino said, “Based on a review of the pathologist’s addendum to the Report of Postmortem Examination, it is apparent that the SIU’s re-opened investigation is no further ahead than when it started; the evidence of healed rib fractures gathered at autopsy could not have been caused by the assault that is alleged to have occurred on February 27, 2018. Accordingly, as there are no grounds to suspect that a police officer or officers had anything to do with the rib fractures in question, or the man’s death, the SIU is once again without jurisdiction to further investigate the matter. The investigation is therefore discontinued, and the file closed.”
The SIU is an independent civilian 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