SIU Concludes Investigation in Barrie
Case Number: 11-OCI-048
Mississauga (15 August, 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 Barrie Police Service (BPS) with a criminal offence in regards to the custody death of Jason Snow in March of this year. Mr. Snow was 38-years-old at the time.
The SIU assigned two investigators and one forensic investigator to the investigation. Investigators made a digital photographic record of the scene, collected physical evidence, and seized exhibits relevant to the incident. Eight civilian witnesses were identified and interviewed. Seven officers were designated as witness officers and one officer was designated as a subject officer. All eight officers were interviewed.
The SIU investigation determined that in the early evening of March 19, 2011, two officers with the BPS were dispatched to the Barrie Bus Terminal to investigate an intoxicated male. Mr. Snow appeared to be under the influence of alcohol; he could not stand up without assistance and was not coherently responding to questions. The two officers arrested him for public intoxication and transported him to the Barrie Police Station. Mr. Snow was processed and lodged into the cells by the subject officer at approximately 6:30 p.m.
Mr. Snow was checked a number of times in his cell. When the officer on cell duty returned to Mr. Snow’s cell area at approximately 11:00 p.m., he appeared to be in distress. An ambulance was called and arrived shortly thereafter. Mr. Snow was transported to the Royal Victoria Hospital where he fell into significant medical distress. He suffered a series of seizures and became non-responsive. On March 22, 2011, he passed away. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be "delayed neurological complications of methanol intoxication."
The Director Scott concluded that "the arresting officers had reasonable grounds to arrest Mr. Snow for public intoxication under the Liquor Licence Act on March 19th; he was displaying indicators of significant intoxication. Unbeknownst to the arresting officers and those in charge of the cell area at the Barrie Police Station, his symptoms were caused by methanol as opposed to ethanol alcohol. While Mr. Snow’s death was unfortunate, the involved officers cannot be held criminally liable for his demise. There was nothing about his actions or demeanor up to the point where an ambulance was called to suggest he was in imminent medical danger."
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