News Release

SIU Terminates Investigation into Man’s Drug Overdose in Barrie Police Station Cell

Case Number: 20-PCI-337   

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Mississauga, ON (7 January, 2021) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Joseph Martino, has terminated an investigation into the serious injury sustained last month by a 44-year-old man in Barrie. 

On December 2, 2020, the man was arrested by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in a drug raid at a motel in Barrie. The man was taken into custody and released to the Barrie Police Service (BPS), which had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Before being lodged in a BPS cell, a search of the man’s person revealed the presence of a quantity of cocaine and fentanyl, which was seized. While in BPS cells, and unbeknownst to police, the man retrieved an additional quantity of fentanyl from his person and ingested it. Shortly after, the man was transferred to the OPP in Bracebridge. When the man began to appear unwell, he was quickly taken to hospital where he was treated for a drug overdose.

Director Martino said, “Based on the SIU’s preliminary inquiries, it is evident at this time that there is patently nothing to investigate as far as the potential criminal liability of any police officer is concerned in connection with the man’s overdose. With respect to the man’s ingestion of fentanyl while in the cell, there is no credible suggestion of any criminal negligence on the part of the police service. The drugs appear to have been secreted within or on the man’s person and undiscoverable except perhaps via a strip or body cavity search, the grounds for which may not have existed, and the man’s time in BPS custody was very short, lasting no more than about an hour before he was transferred to the OPP. While in OPP custody in Bracebridge, the police had no reason to believe that the man had ingested a significant quantity of fentanyl until he began to appear unwell, at which point the evidence indicates they acted quickly to take him to hospital. The man was successfully treated and recovered from his overdose. On this record, I am satisfied that the man is alone responsible for his drug overdose. Accordingly, the SIU investigation is hereby discontinued and the file is closed.”

The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials (police officers as well as special constables with the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service) that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must

  • consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
  • depending on the evidence, cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official where grounds exist for doing so, or close the file without any charges being laid
  • publicly report the results of its investigations

Lisez ce communiqué en français.

Monica Hudon,
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342