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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Lambton County Death

Case Number: 10-PCD-206

Mississauga (4 March, 2011) --- 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) with a criminal offence in regards to the death of a Lambton County man.

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

The SIU investigation determined that the following events took place:

• On September 23, 2010 at approximately 11:30 pm, an OPP officer attempted to stop the vehicle driven eastbound by Paul Horan on Hwy 402 because it had unauthorized plates. The driver initially refused to stop.

• Mr. Horan did eventually stop his vehicle near the Nauvoo Road exit. Shortly before stopping, he threw a pill bottle out of his car. The OPP later recovered a pill bottle from the side of the highway.

• The subject officer handcuffed Mr. Horan and placed him in the rear seat of his cruiser.

• The officer searched Mr. Horan’s vehicle and found a pellet gun. SIU forensic investigators would later also find empty pill bottles in the vehicle.

• Mr. Horan was initially alert and made some utterances that indicated he may be mentally distressed.

• The subject officer started to transport Mr. Horan to the local hospital due to the apparent mental health concerns when Mr. Horan began to convulse while in transit.

• The officer pulled his cruiser over and radioed for an ambulance.

• Paramedics arrived and transported Mr. Horan to Charlotte Engelhart Hospital in Petrolia.

• At approximately 2:20 am Mr. Horan was pronounced deceased.

Director Scott stated "In my view, the subject officer had the lawful authority to stop the vehicle in question pursuant to s. 216 of the Highway Traffic Act– it had unauthorized plates and the driver refused to stop. He had the further authority to apprehend him and take him to a hospital pursuant to s. 17 of the Mental Health Act. He was seen throwing a pill bottle from his vehicle shortly before it came to rest and made utterances upon arrest that caused the subject officer concern for Mr. Horan’s well-being. As a result of the post-mortem report, which the SIU received on February 23, 2011, the cause of death was listed as ‘acute amitriptyline (an antidepressant) and methadone toxicity,’ confirming the subject officer’s opinion that Mr. Horan was a danger to himself due to his drug ingestion."

Director Scott added "There is no suggestion that the subject officer had involvement in either Mr. Horan’s ingestion of the pills or was negligent in his care during the time he was in the officer’s custody. Accordingly, no criminal liability may attach to the subject officer’s actions with respect to his 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. 

Jasbir Dhillon, jasbir.dhillon@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342