Skip to content

No charges for police in Owen Sound man's overdose death: SIU

A 57-year-old man died 20 minutes after leaving police custody
SIU logo

An investigation by the independent Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has ruled there is no basis for criminal charges against police after an Owen Sound man died 20 minutes after leaving police custody.

The 57-year-old man was arrested by Owen Sound Police Services on Sept. 26, 2022 at about 8:40 a.m. on 4th Avenue East. He was kept in police custody, had a bail hearing, and was released the same day at 3:40 p.m. At 4 p.m. a 911 call reported a man in medical distress in a Tim Hortons on 9th Street East. The man in distress was the same one who had been arrested that day and who left the police station 20 minutes before the 911 call. He died at the scene. 

The SIU investigation report notes the man had a lethal dose of various drugs in his system when he died. 

The autopsy performed by a pathologist concluded the man’s death was because of “multiple drugs toxicity, including methamphetamine, amphetamine, fentanyl, and methadone.” 

The SIU was called to investigate because of the proximity of the man’s death to his arrest and time in police custody. The arms-length investigation is triggered when anyone is injured or dies while in police custody or during an incident where police are involved. 

The investigators reviewed video footage from the police station to confirm the actions of police and the man who was arrested while he was in custody. 

The man was arrested on outstanding warrants, and the SIU reported the arrest was "without incident." 

According to the SIU report, video shows the man was searched by police when he first arrived and was checked 12 times throughout the day. Following his bail hearing, he was released. While in police custody, the man explained he suffered from asthma and had recently missed a methadone appointment, reports the SIU.

While leaving the station, the man appeared to use a desk and a wall to steady himself after getting up from tying his boots. He walked out the door without assistance, states the report. 

Witnesses at the Tim Hortons say he came into the restaurant stating he couldn’t breathe and he needed his puffer, according to the SIU report. 

“There is no indication … the officer with ultimate responsibility for the health of prisoners in cells failed to comport himself with due care and regard for the Complainant’s wellbeing,” states the SIU report. 

The term "complainant" refers to the man who died after leaving police custody. 

“At no point was the Complainant captured on police cameras consuming drugs,” states the SIU report. “Coupled with the medical evidence, this strongly suggests that the Complainant consumed lethal doses of drugs after his release from police custody and prior to his arrival at the Tim Hortons – a time interval of about 20 minutes.” 

The SIU determined there are “no reasonable grounds” to believe police officers “transgressed the limits of care by the criminal law,” and there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges. The report by the SIU was approved by Director Joseph Martino. You can read the full report online here.

Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
Read more