SIU Concludes Investigation into Peel Region Custody Death
Case Number: 08-OCD-194
The SIU assigned four investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident.
On the evening of September 16, 2008, Sean Reilly was arrested at a Mississauga home on a charge of assault, and was subsequently taken to 12 Division police station where he was lodged in a cell. Approximately thirty minutes later, Mr. Reilly was seen on a cell monitor banging his head on the bars, causing his forehead to bleed. Officers attended the cell area and told Mr. Reilly they would take him to hospital, but he continued to ram his head into the bars. He finally complied with demands to get down on his knees. When an officer entered the cell, Mr. Reilly ran at him. The officers pinned Mr. Reilly to the ground, but he continued to struggle. A Taser was discharged by one of the officers to Mr. Reilly’s shoulder blade, whereupon Mr. Reilly stopped resisting and was handcuffed. He immediately fell into physical distress, and shortly after, stopped breathing. The officers started cardiopulmonary resuscitation until the arrival of the paramedics, who successfully regained his pulse. Mr. Reilly was then transported to Mississauga General Hospital where he never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead the next day.
There will be a mandatory inquest in this matter, and accordingly, the cause of death will be determined by the jury after they have heard all of the evidence. For purposes of the SIU’s mandate, however, the forensic evidence indicated that the force used by the officers against Mr. Reilly, including the Taser discharge, did not contribute to his death.
Director Scott said, “I am of the opinion that Mr. Reilly was in lawful police custody after being properly arrested on a charge of assault with a weapon. While the subject officers had physical contact with Mr. Reilly after he was placed in a 12 Division cell and made use of a Taser, on the basis of the post-mortem examination, the actions of the subject officers were unrelated to his death. Further, their attempt to subdue him and the use of the Taser were justified under ss. 25(1) of the Criminal Code in circumstances where he needed to be transported to a hospital and was actively non-compliant.”
Director Scott added, “Given the circumstances leading to the death of Mr. Reilly, I am of the view that the four subject officers’ conduct fell within the limits prescribed by the criminal law. Accordingly, I cannot attach criminal liability to their acts and omissions with respect to this incident.”
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.