TORONTO —; The province’s police watchdog will not pursue criminal charges against an Ontario Provincial Police officer after a 62-year-old man died while in police custody in April.
The Special Investigations Unit said that Kemptville OPP officers arrested the man on an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court on April 7.
He was transferred to the Lanark County Detachment in Perth, Ont., which was the location of the outstanding warrant, and placed in a cell.
The SIU said a civilian guard checked on the man during his initial intake, and every 15 minutes throughout the morning.
At about 8:30 a.m., the guard noticed the man was breathing heavily and was “pale and clammy,” the SIU said. An ambulance was then called and the man was then taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A pathologist determined the cause of death was a perforated ulcer and SIU director Tony Loparco said in a release that he could not find any fault in the officer’s conduct that would necessitate a criminal charge.
“It is clear they did nothing that caused or contributed to the man’s death; an underlying medical condition was to blame for that,” he said, adding that the issue was whether officers “exercised a sufficient level of care” while the man was in custody.
“It is apparent that the man was kept under close watch while at the police station,” Loparco said, adding that he was “satisfied on reasonable grounds that the man was accorded a level of care that fell within the limits prescribed by criminal law.”
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.
The watchdog assigned three investigators and one forensic investigator to review the incident. One civilian witness, one civilian police employee and six witness officers were interviewed.
The unnamed officer, who the SIU said was ultimately responsible for prisoners that night, did not participate in an SIU interview and did not provide a copy of his duty notes, which is within his legal right.