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SIU clears Hawkesbury OPP in death of man

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has found there was no criminal wrongdoing when a man died after being apprehended by Hawkesbury OPP officers in 2019. The SIU is called in to investigate whenever death follows a police action.

According to the report from the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), at 1 a.m., on May 2, 2019, officers responded to an incident at a home on Abbott Street where a 31-year-old man was shouting at a neighbour and showing signs of mental health issues.  Concerned that he was going to jump off a balcony, the police used a taser. A physical struggle between the man and police followed and he was apprehended.

The man’s vital signs disappeared, paramedics performed CPR and the man began to breathe again.  He was taken to Ottawa Civic Hospital.  He had no brain activity, his family consented to take him off life support, and he died on May 10.

On May 22, the coroner expressed concerned that the use of the taser had a role in the man’s death.  On May 23, the SIU notified the OPP it was launching the investigation.

Three SIU investigators and two SIU forensic investigators spent more than seven months interviewing police officers and civilian witnesses.

The autopsy pathologist determined the cause of the man’s death was cocaine and methamphetamine toxicity.  The pathologist also determined that taser use did not contribute whatsoever to the death.

On March 6, Special Investigations Unit Director Joseph Martino determined that in terms of the force used and the care exercised by the police officers, they acted lawfully during their encounter with the man.

James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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