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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Taser Death

Case Number: 10-PCD-111

Mississauga (6 December, 2010) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge an officer of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) – Collingwood Detachment, with a criminal offence in regards to the death of a Collingwood man in late June of this year.

The SIU assigned four investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident.  The SIU designated four officers as witness officers and one officer as a subject officer. Twenty-three civilian witnesses were interviewed.

The SIU investigation determined that on June 24, two OPP officers were dispatched to the Blue Mountain Residence in Collingwood in regards to an assault complaint.  The subject of the complaint, 27-year-old Aron Firman, was found sitting in a chair outside one of the buildings. Both officers attempted to speak to an agitated Mr. Firman, with varying success. When both officers moved in to apprehend Mr. Firman, he got up from the chair and moved aggressively towards the subject officer.  The witness officer tried to intervene and get control of Mr. Firman, but was unable to do so as Mr. Firman struck her in the face with his elbow.  Mr. Firman continued to advance upon the subject officer, who responded by discharging his Taser at Mr. Firman.  Mr. Firman was able to take a few additional steps before falling to the ground and lapsing into unconsciousness.  EMS was contacted and responded.  Mr. Firman was taken to the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A post-mortem examination was conducted on Mr. Firman on June 26, 2010 by Doctor Michael Pollanen, Ontario’s Chief Forensic Pathologist. The post-mortem report indicates that Mr. Firman died from “cardiac arrhythmia precipitated by electronic control device deployment in an agitated man.”  The report further notes that Mr. Firman had a couple of underlying health conditions that “could” have predisposed him to arrhythmia in these circumstances.  Of course, the legal determination of cause of death will be decided by an inquest jury, if an inquest is called.   

Director Scott said, “There are no reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officer committed a criminal offence in relation to the death of Mr. Aron Firman.  In my view, both officers had the lawful authority to apprehend Mr. Firman under s. 17 of the Mental Health Act.  They also had the authority to arrest him for assault.  When they approached him, he was significantly resistant and struck the witness officer above the eye with his elbow. The subject officer deployed his Taser, and for the purpose of my analysis, I am accepting that this deployment caused Mr. Firman’s death.”

Director Scott added, “The Taser is characterized as a less lethal or intermediate weapon both in the OPP operator recertification material and the use of force model.  However, in this incident, the Taser’s deployment in my view caused Mr. Firman’s death.  Obviously, in this case, there is a dissonance between the post-mortem findings and the aforementioned classification of the Taser.  However, the subject officer could have reasonably thought that the Taser deployment would not be lethal based upon his training.  In these circumstances, and in light of Mr. Firman’s demonstrated degree of aggression, I am of the opinion that the Taser’s deployment was not excessive, notwithstanding the fact that it caused Mr. Firman’s demise.”

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. 

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