SIU Concludes Custody Death Investigation in Toronto
Case Number: 11-TCD-199
Mississauga (2 April, 2012) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge two officers with the Toronto Police Service (TPS) with any criminal offence in relation to the death of 43-year-old Pasqualino DePaolis in September of 2011.
The SIU assigned five investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. Each subject officer provided a copy of his duty notes and consented to an interview with the SIU. Six witness officers and thirteen civilian witnesses were interviewed. The SIU received the final post-mortem examination report on March 26, 2012. As will be seen below, its receipt was critical to understanding the circumstances of Mr. DePaolis’ demise.
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Thursday, September 29, 2011:
• In the evening of that day, the two subject officers were driving east on Dundas Street near Poulette Street when they spotted Mr. DePaolis waving his hands and yelling at passing cars. He had open wounds on his person, and was insufficiently dressed for the weather conditions.
• The subject officers decided to apprehend Mr. DePaolis under the Mental Health Act, and handcuffed his hands behind his body. They called for an ambulance and walked him toward Parliament Street in an attempt to facilitate the ambulance pickup.
• At the corner of Parliament Street and Coatsworth Lane, the officers placed Mr. DePaolis in a sitting position while waiting for the ambulance. Mr. DePaolis started to become agitated and moved on to his stomach. The subject officers at one point moved him on to his side. Other officers arrived on the scene. Mr. DePaolis began to fall into medical distress, leading one of the officers to remove the handcuffs.
• More enquiries were made about the arrival time of the requested ambulance, and the officers were advised that an ambulance had not been dispatched. The officers rushed Mr. DePaolis to St. Michael’s Hospital in a police cruiser.
• He died in hospital later that day.
A post-mortem examination was conducted and samples sent for toxicological testing. The body showed multiple signs of largely superficial injury. However, no civilian witnesses observed blunt force being applied by officers to Mr. DePaolis. Taking into consideration the toxicological findings, the pathologist determined the cause of death to be ‘cocaine intoxication in a man with acute psychosis’.
Director Scott said, “I am of the view that the subject officers had reasonable grounds to apprehend Mr. DePaolis under s. 17 of the Mental Health Act; he appeared to be incapable of taking care of himself and he was apparently suffering from a mental disorder that would likely cause serious bodily harm to himself.
“Unfortunately, a requested ambulance did not arrive in a timely manner. While the subject officers waited, Mr. DePaolis fell into severe medical distress. In an attempt to assist Mr. DePaolis, officers drove him to the nearest hospital, where he died shortly thereafter. There is no suggestion of mistreatment by the subject officers. By all accounts they were attempting to assist a man who could not help himself. Accordingly, no criminal liability may attach to the involvement of the officers with Mr. DePaolis.”
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, email@example.com
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342