SIU concludes Investigation into Toronto Man's Death



    TORONTO, Jan. 8 /CNW/ - James Cornish, the Director of the Special
Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds
to believe that any of the Toronto Police Service (TPS) police officers
committed any criminal offence in connection with the death of Jasen Drnasin.
    On November 12, 2006, Mr. Jasen Drnasin was involved in an altercation
with TTC Special Constables and Toronto Police Service (TPS) officers in the
area of Eglinton Avenue West and Royal York Road. Shortly after his arrest,
Mr. Drnasin went into medical distress. He was transported to hospital. He
remained in critical condition until his death on November 27, 2006.
    The SIU assigned three Investigators and two Forensic Identification
Technicians (FIT) to investigate the circumstances surrounding this death.
Three officers were designated as Subject Officers and sixteen were designated
as Witness Officers. Sixteen civilian witnesses were interviewed.
    The SIU determined that in the late afternoon of November 12, 2006,
Mr. Jasen Drnasin boarded a southbound TTC bus on Islington Avenue. Without
provocation, he punched a man who was a passenger on the bus. The man did not
know Mr. Drnasin. The man got off the bus and called the TPS to report the
assault. Several hours later, the same man got on an eastbound bus on Eglinton
Avenue East and noticed Mr. Drnasin was on it. Police were called again.
Mr. Drnasin exited that bus at Islington Avenue and the man exited at Royal
York Road. While the man waited at Royal York Road for the police to arrive,
another eastbound bus on Eglinton Avenue East approached and stopped at Royal
York Road. It was carrying Mr. Drnasin as a passenger. The driver of that bus
was apprised of the situation. He asked his passengers to exit the bus and to
board another eastbound bus, which had pulled in behind him. Mr. Drnasin was
among the passengers that did so and took a seat near the back. Prior to the
TPS arriving, two TTC Special Constables boarded the bus in which Mr. Drnasin
was sitting. The TTC Special Constables attempted to arrest Mr. Drnasin, and
when he physically resisted them, pepper foam was used in an attempt to
control him. The Special Constables were unable to subdue Mr. Drnasin, despite
a concerted physical effort. A TTC employee who attempted to aid the Special
Constables suffered a broken arm during the struggle.
    Mr. Drnasin broke free, fled the bus, and ran from the scene. TPS
officers responded to the call. When the officers arrived on the scene they
were told that Mr. Drnasin was running eastbound on the south side of Eglinton
Avenue. The officers caught up to Mr. Drnasin. One of the officers told
Mr. Drnasin to stop, but Mr. Drnasin ignored the officer. The officers
attempted to take Mr. Drnasin into custody. Mr. Drnasin physically resisted
the officers. The TPS officers used a number of empty hand strikes and knee
strikes on Mr. Drnasin in an attempt to gain Mr. Drnasin's compliance, but
were unsuccessful. Mr. Drnasin was relatively uninjured by these blows and was
able to continue his struggle for about eight minutes. With the assistance of
other officers and the TTC Special Constables, Mr. Drnasin was finally
subdued. At this time Mr. Drnasin went into medical distress.
    Toronto Fire and EMS arrived on the scene and treated Mr. Drnasin. It is
clear that the officers were aware of the risks of positional asphyxia and
attempted to reposition Mr. Drnasin on the ground. An oxygen mask was placed
on Mr. Drnasin, but he was moving on his own and still struggling against his
restraints. Mr. Drnasin was transported by ambulance to hospital. Mr. Drnasin
was admitted to hospital and died on November 27, 2006.
    Director Cornish determined that TPS officers were acting lawfully when
they arrived at the Royal York Road and Eglinton Avenue area to assist TTC
Special Constables in arresting Mr. Drnasin. By every account, the subject
officers and other police officers that arrived on the scene were required to
engage in a prolonged struggle with an individual exhibiting extraordinary
strength. Director Cornish said, "The TPS officers delivered knee strikes and
punches to Mr. Drnasin with the intent of gaining his compliance. There is no
evidence that Mr. Drnasin was choked in any way. TPS officers eventually
subdued Mr. Drnasin. The officers held Mr. Drnasin down and restrained his
limbs. This was an entirely reasonable response to the situation facing the
officers. In my view, the force used cannot be characterized as excessive or
unwarranted. Mr. Drnasin's death cannot be attributed to unreasonable force
used by the police."
    Mr. Drnasin's death could not be conclusively attributed to any single
cause. Accordingly, as legal processes may follow that will deal with that
issue, it would be inappropriate for the SIU to make any further comment in
respect of the cause of Mr. Drnasin's death. That said, Director Cornish
reiterated, "Whatever the precise cause of Mr. Drnasin's unfortunate death,
there are no reasonable grounds in my view to believe the death resulted from
a criminal offence committed by any of the involved officers."

    The SIU is a civilian government agency that investigates circumstances
involving police and civilians, which have resulted in serious injury or
death. Under Section 113 of the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU
has the authority to decide whether or not charges are warranted based on the
findings of an investigation. The Director's decision is reported to the
Attorney General.





For further information:

For further information: Frank Phillips, SIU Communications/Service des
communications, UES, Telephone/No de telephone: (416) 622-2342 or/ou
1-800-787-8529

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