TORONTO, Dec. 5 /CNW/ - James Cornish, the Director of the Special
Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded that a Barrie Police Service (BPS)
officer was not criminally responsible for the serious injuries to a
On September 11, 2007, Thomas Saunders was struck by a distraction device
and suffered a serious wound to his arm during a police raid at his apartment.
Mr. Saunders was released from the hospital two days later. On November 13,
the BPS notified the SIU that Mr. Saunders had died on November 10, 2007.
Toxicology tests are pending to determine an exact cause of death. There is no
evidence to suggest that Mr. Saunders' death was related to the arm injury he
sustained on September 11.
The SIU investigation determined that on September 11, at approximately
1:30 a.m., 15 BPS officers executed a search warrant at 89 Toronto Street in
Barrie. The officers entered the home from the rear and used distraction
devices as they entered. They identified themselves as police officers and
yelled, "Search warrant, get down." Once the main floor was secured, a team of
officers made their way to the second floor. They knew several occupants had
fled to a second floor bedroom and found the bedroom door barricaded shut.
Tactical officers kicked the door down and threw a "flash bang" device into
There were four people, including Mr. Saunders, inside the room. Mr.
Saunders was lying on the ground when the device landed on his arm and
detonated. The officers entered the room and started to provide emergency aid
to Mr. Saunders. The paramedics, who were on stand-by near the scene,
immediately transported him to Royal Victoria Hospital where he was treated
for his arm injury.
Having reviewed the available evidence, Director Cornish said,
"Distraction devices are intended to cause a physiological effect by causing a
temporary involuntary shutdown of cognitive motor functions. The secondary
function of the device is to cause a distraction, to allow the entry team to
advance with less resistance. As seen on the evidence in this case, these
devices can cause serious injury and thus must be used responsibly." The
Director concluded, "There is no evidence to support a notion that these
devices were deliberately used to harm anyone nor is there sufficient evidence
to support the notion that the device was used in a criminally negligent
fashion. The officers intended this "flash bang" device to land on the floor
and go off causing no injury, just distraction. The injury in this case was
the unintended result of the use of reasonable force in the execution of a
The SIU is a civilian agency that investigates cases of serious injuries
(including allegations of sexual assault) and deaths involving the police.
Pursuant to section 113 of the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU is
mandated to consider whether a criminal offence has been committed by an
officer(s) in connection with the incident under investigation and, where
warranted by the evidence, to cause a criminal charge or charges to be laid
against the officer(s). The Director reports the results of investigations to
the Attorney General.
For further information:
For further information: Rose Bliss, SIU Communications/Service des
communications, UES, Telephone/No de telephone: (416) 622-2342 or ou