SIU Concludes Investigation into Police Custody Death in Strathroy



    TORONTO, Sept. 12 /CNW/ - The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has
determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that officers of
the Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service committed any criminal offence in
connection with the death of a local man.
    "I do not believe that the actions of any officer caused the injury that
took this man's life," concluded SIU Director James Cornish. "The SIU examined
the evidence from the perspective of whether there was any inaction on the
part of the police that could reasonably be said to support a criminal charge
of criminal negligence or failure to provide the necessaries of life. There
was no evidence of such a failure."
    Mr. Cornish added: "In accordance with its mandate, the SIU focused on
any action of the police and found no evidence of any police contact with Mr.
Jones between 10:00 p.m. on August 11th and shortly before 3:00 a.m. on August
12th. Therefore, I do not believe that the actions of any officer caused the
injury that took this man's life."
    On August 11, 2008 at approximately 9:30 p.m., police responded to a call
on Albert Street about a man who was having trouble standing. Officers
identified him as 48-year-old Richard Jones who told them that he suffered
from a medical condition, which affected his equilibrium. After assessing that
he was not under the influence of alcohol and was lucid enough to be taken
home, police drove him to his apartment on Caradoc Street. There, he declined
the officer's offer to walk him to his room, and was last seen approaching the
building.
    About five hours later, at approximately 2:50 a.m., officers responded to
a 9-1-1 call from the building's landlord, who saw Mr. Jones lying on the
driveway. He was taken to the local Strathroy-Middlesex Hospital and then
transferred to the University Hospital Health Centre in London where he died.
An autopsy confirmed the cause of death was a subdural hematoma - a brain
injury consistent with a fall.
    The probe conducted by the SIU found that Mr. Jones had fallen frequently
in the days leading up to his death. This is according to witness statements
and supported by the physical evidence, including bruises and scrapes to his
body. On the day before his death, his family took him to hospital for tests
related to certain health concerns he had; however, Mr. Jones checked himself
out of hospital against the advice of the medical staff.
    In considering the issue of a police officer's duty to provide care, SIU
Director James Cornish concluded: "On a matter of life and death, where death
or serious injury was a foreseeable consequence of a wrong decision, the
reasonable person would have erred on the side of caution and taken the person
to hospital for prompt medical attention. However, thisHoweve was not an
obvious matter of life or death; indeed, the subject officer turned his mind
to the issue of this man's health and determined, in my view reasonably based
upon what he believed, that Mr. Jones could be returned home. I do not believe
that there is a breach of duty of care imposed on this officer by the criminal
law."
    During its investigation, the SIU interviewed four police officers and 15
civilian witnesses.

    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: John Yoannou, SIU Communications/Service des
communications, UES Telephone/No de telephone: (416) 622-2342 or/ou
1-800-787-8529, For general information about the SIU, please visit our
website at www.siu.on.ca

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