An SIU vehicle.  (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn Media)An SIU vehicle. (File photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn Media)

Owen Sound officer cleared after man fatally overdosed upon release

The province's police oversight agency has concluded its investigation into an Owen Sound police officer after a man fatally overdosed shortly after he was released from custody.

According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), At around 8:40 a.m. on September 26, 2022, the officer ran a check on a 57-year-old man he came across on 4th Avenue East. As a result, the officer learned the man was wanted on several outstanding arrest warrants and he was taken into custody.

"At booking, the Complainant acknowledged that he suffered from asthma and had recently missed a methadone appointment," the SIU report read.

At around 3:40 p.m., the man was released from the Owen Sound police station's holding cell after he was processed and given a bail hearing.

Shortly afterward, a 911 call was made from a Tim Horton's restaurant on 9th Street East. The caller told emergency dispatchers that a man, later determined to be the same man just released from police custody, was in medical distress. She told dispatchers that the man appeared to be suffering from an asthma attack, and while his puffer was administered, it did not alleviate his symptoms.

The report from the SIU states that emergency crews responded, and the man was without vital signs. Paramedics tried to resuscitate the man, and he was rushed to hospital. He was pronounced deceased by doctors at the hospital at 4:43 p.m.

Also included in the SIU report were the toxicology results from a pathologist, which suggested the man had consumed a lethal dose of an unspecified substance(s) after his release. The report noted that a pat-down search was done on the man. However, it does not say if any drugs were found.

"From the moment of his arrest until his release by police, the Complainant was in custody for about seven hours. During that time, the Complainant was personally checked while in cells 12 times," read the analysis from SIU Director Joseph Martino. "Aside from the time of his release, when the Complainant steadied himself on a wall and may have complained of shortness of breath prior to exiting the police station, the Complainant appears not to have given any indication of discomfort."

As a result, Martino said there are no reasonable grounds to believe the officer "transgressed the limits" of care required by law in connection to the supervision the man received while in police custody. No criminal charges are being laid, and the file is closed.

The full SIU report can be read online.

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