Special Investigations UnitSpecial Investigations Unit

SIU clears Collingwood officer

Ontario's police watchdog found no grounds for charges against Collingwood OPP members who responded to a mental health crisis in which a woman died by suicide.

The Special Investigations Unit had its mandate invoked after police responded to a call in the early morning on December 22, 2023.

A woman reported that people were breaking into her home. But when police arrived at the address, the woman locked the door and wouldn't allow anyone inside. One officer reported seeing the woman pace back and forth with a golf club, and later a knife.

Police eventually knocked the door down after an observing officer saw the woman engaging in self-harm.

SIU Director Joseph Martino wrote in his report that there were no grounds for charges of criminal negligence causing death.

"The officers seem to have quickly realized that there was, in fact, no attempted break-in and that, instead, they were dealing with a person in distress," read Martino's report. "They attempted to win the Complainant’s confidence by assuring her they were there to help. Regrettably, the Complainant was of unsound mind at the time and could not be persuaded to let the officers inside. The moment they became aware that the Complainant had cut herself, the SO breached the front door and the officers entered."

Martino said that it was arguable officers should have entered the home once the woman was observed holding a knife, but that could not ultimately be deemed a lack of due care.

"The question of whether exigent circumstances exist to justify a warrantless entry into a home is not always clear," said Martino. "In the case at hand, the Complainant had not expressed any suicidal ideations but had expressly told the officers not to enter her home. On this record, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the officers were remiss with respect to when they entered the residence."

The file has been closed.

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