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News Release

SIU Concludes Orangeville Custody Death Investigation

Case Number: 10-OCD-242

Mississauga (20 April, 2011) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge any officers of the Orangeville Police Service (OPS) with a criminal offence in regards to the custody death of 25-year-old Adam Sprague of Orangeville in November of last year.

The SIU assigned five investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. Investigators designated one officer as a subject officer and eleven officers as witness officers. Sixteen civilian witnesses, including persons present in the cells during Mr. Sprague’s period of detention, were identified and interviewed. Detention area video tapes were obtained from the OPS along with booking sheets. The scene was photographed and a scale diagram was completed by SIU forensic investigators.

The SIU investigation determined that at 11:00 p.m. November 10, 2010, Mr. Sprague was arrested for public intoxication. Mr. Sprague was lodged in the OPS cells shortly thereafter. At 7:41a.m. November 11, 2010 Mr. Sprague was found in his cell with Vital Signs Absent (VSA). The SIU investigation determined that Mr. Sprague died sometime between 4:41 a.m. and 7:41 a.m.

 

 

After Mr. Sprague was discovered at 7:41 a.m., efforts were made by police officers, special constables, fire fighters and paramedics to resuscitate him. However, he never gained consciousness. The post-mortem report received by the SIU on March 16, 2011 lists the cause of death as ‘acute oxycodone toxicity.’

Director Scott said, "The subject officer was in charge of the prisoners in the cells that evening, and it is clear that he did not ensure that Mr. Sprague was physically checked. The relevant sections of the Criminal Code are fail to provide the necessaries of life and criminal negligence causing death. In my view, the legal proof of liability is similar for both offences – they both require a marked and substantial departure from the level of care that a reasonable custodian would have taken in circumstances where an accused recognized and ran an obvious and serious risk to life and safety, or alternatively gave no thought to the risk. In my view, the omissions of the subject officer do not support either charge. The audio recording of the cell activities that night does not disclose any utterances from other prisoners that would have put staff on notice that Mr. Sprague was in distress. Further, the dispatchers who were monitoring the cell videos thought that the decedent was sleeping. While the subject officer did have a legal duty to protect those under his custody, his omissions do not constitute such a marked departure that I can form reasonable grounds that a criminal offence took place."

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. 

Frank Phillips, frank.phillips@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342