SIU Concludes Custody Death Investigation in Kitchener
Case Number: 05-OCD-050
Other News Releases Related to Case 05-OCD-050
Shortly after 6:00 p.m. on that date, members of the WRPS were called to Fairview Park mall to investigate reports of a man behaving strangely. Witnesses reported the man was jumping counters, screaming and speaking incoherently. The man had also previously been seen running in and out of traffic on Fairway Road near Highway 8 earlier that evening.
Two WRPS officers located the man, later identified as Mr. Steele, in the food court area of the mall and felt that he needed medical help. An off duty WRPS officer, mall security guards and three Kitchener firefighters also arrived to assist. When asked whether he had taken any drugs, Mr. Steele admitted to being on cocaine. Mr. Steele was arrested and handcuffed under the Mental Health Act and placed in a police cruiser by the two officers.
Paramedics met the officers outside the mall. While they were discussing how best to take Mr. Steele to the hospital, he lapsed into cardiac arrest. Mr. Steele was taken by ambulance to St. Mary's Hospital where he died at about 7:11 p.m.
A post mortem examination concluded no anatomical cause of death. Toxicological testing later determined that Mr. Steele had levels of cocaine in his system at the time of death.
Director Cornish concluded, "The evidence establishes that this young man was in the throes of a manic episode on the evening of April 12, 2005. Whatever the cause of Mr. Steele's death, I am satisfied that none of the subject officers bear any criminal liability in relation to it. In their short time with Mr. Steele, the officers were able to arrest him without incident and then acted quickly to assist in whatever way they could with medical intervention at the first sign of distress. The officers' conduct fell within the requisite level of care prescribed by the criminal law. Indeed, I believe that the officers did all that they could to ensure Mr. Steele was treated properly and cared for in a timely fashion."
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.