Durham officer cleared of charges in the death of a man tasered in Clarington

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Published January 31, 2022 at 12:44 pm

siu

The Special Investigations Unit, which investigates police interactions that result in death or injury, has found no reasonable grounds to believe a Durham Regional Police officer committed a criminal offense after a man died following a car crash and being tasered.

Durham Police officers, responding to an OPP robbery investigation and be on the lookout (BOLO) alert, arrived at the Highway 115 crash scene north of Concession Road 8 at noon October 2, 2021.

The man wanted by the OPP  had allegedly robbed a jewelry store in Belleville while armed, before fleeing the scene in a blue Chevrolet. OPP officers tracked the man’s car through his cellphone and let DRPS know he was approaching their jurisdiction.

According to the OPP the man indicated he had a gun, said he would be on the news that night, was under the influence of drugs and hit other cars while he drove down Highway 401.

The officer subject to the investigation was on patrol in North Oshawa. When the officer learned the complainant was on the way, he moved to Highway 115 from the 407, followed by an OPP cruiser, in attempt to track the man down.

When officers arrived they found a one-car crash. The cars was on fire and the driver, 48 of Belleville, was fighting with a witness who was driving a different vehicle.

THe man under investigation had driven off the road and crashed into a ditch on Highway 115 between Skelding Road and Concession Road 8. The DRPS officer stopped his car near the crash site, while the OPP went further ahead to a beige sedan stopped on the road side.

The complainant was fighting the driver of the beige sedan on the road shoulder as officers got out of their cars and walked toward the fight. When he noticed the cops the complainant fled the fight, ran across two lanes of traffic and jumped the centre median.

The officers gave chase and told the complainant to get on the ground. He responded by cursing out the officers, saying he had a gun and throwing a keychain at the officers.

The complainant was almost hit by a motorcycle while in the southbound lanes before traffic stopped ahead of him.

The DRPS officer reported on the radio, “OK, I have a MVC [motor vehicle collision] here.” Running and heavily breathing he said, “Male suspect says he’s got a gun. We are westbound on foot. Taser! Taser! Taser!” DRPS dispatch responded with a police code for officers to stop transmitting.

Officers approached and, when metres away, the DRPS officer fired their taser, striking the complainant in the back of the head and in his back. The man immediately collapsed in the roadway. The OPP officer cuffed the man, after the DRPS officer had activated the taser twice more.

The DRPS controlled energy weapon used against the Complainant prior to his death. 

“I am with one OPP. We have one in custody. We are going to need an ambulance. We are between Noone’s store and Wilcox. We have a car on fire. We need fire department as well.”

The officers lifted the man to his feet and put him up against the centre median where he soon collapsed again, then lost vital signs. CPR, Narcan and a defibrillator were all used in attempt to the resuscitate him.

EMS took the man the to the Bowmanville Lakeridge Health hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after 2 a.m the next morning. An autopsy found no obvious anatomical cause of death, leaving the cause undetermined.

“There are no reasonable grounds to believe that it is attributable to unlawful conduct on the part of the [DRPS officer] or [OPP officer]. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed,” SIU director Joseph Martino concluded.

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