SIU Concludes Investigation into Custody Death

    TORONTO, June 5 /CNW/ - The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has
determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that officers of
the Durham Regional Police committed any criminal offence in connection with
the custody death of 47-year-old Salvatore Ruscica on November 10, 2007.
    During their investigation of a vehicle collision in Ajax, officers found
syringes discarded in a woodlot near the scene in an area where some of the
witnesses saw Mr. Ruscica discard items he removed from his damaged vehicle.
Mr. Ruscica was charged with offences under the Highway Traffic Act and the
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and held overnight for a bail hearing. He
was searched twice before being locked in an interview room to await transfer
to the central detention facility. After approximately two hours, officers
heard a loud bang from inside the room and found Mr. Ruscica suffering from
severe seizures. Paramedics were called but he died later in hospital.
    An autopsy revealed no anatomical cause of death; however, a baggie of
white powder was found concealed in his body at the time of the autopsy. The
baggie had split open causing the contents to escape into his blood system.
    "Although Mr. Ruscica did advise officers that he used drugs, he denied
any recent use of narcotics," said SIU Director James Cornish. "He also
appeared alert, coherent and sober to all the civilians and officers who dealt
with him at the collision scene and at the station. I can see nothing that
would have put the officers on notice that they should watch this man more
carefully than they did in these circumstances." Mr. Cornish concluded: "I do
not believe that the fact that no officer checked this man between
approximately midnight and 2:20 a.m. constitutes a criminal breach of their
duty to care for him."

    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

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