SIU clears Kingston Police after male barricaded inside residence located deceased

Kingston Police officers at an incident on Fraser Street in July 2023. Photo by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has concluded its investigation into a July 2023 incident in which a male, who had barricaded himself inside a residence after stabbing another individual, was located deceased by Kingston Police (KP).

The SIU — which investigates any incident in Ontario involving law enforcement officials in which there is serious injury, death, allegation of sexual assault, or discharge of a firearm by an official at a person — has determined that, while the 40-year-old male involved in the case was discovered deceased inside the residence, “there were no reasonable grounds to believe a Kingston Police officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the death.”

The officers in this case are Kingston Police officers, and the above statement comes from the findings of SIU Director Joseph Martino in his report on the incident, which was published on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023. The civilian, who was located deceased during the incident on the morning of July 6, 2023, will be referred to as the “Complainant” throughout this article, as is done in the SIU’s report.

The incident took place after Kingston Police were notified by an unknown caller, at 6:23 p.m., reporting that a 40-year-old man, who was under the influence of drugs, was waving a knife around and trying to get in the back door of a residence on Fraser Street, according to the SIU report. Officers arrived on scene within minutes, confronted the Complainant, and directed him to drop the knife.

“The Complainant appeared oblivious to the fact that officers were present. He continued to wave the knife around and used it to slash at an air conditioning unit at the front of the caller’s residence. After a period, the Complainant ran across the driveway separating the caller’s residence from the building next door and entered a residential unit of the building through the rear door, locking the door behind him,” the report reads.

Minutes later, a woman exited the front door of the same unit. According to the SIU, she was bleeding from wounds to a hand and her upper right chest. The Complainant had reportedly stabbed her inside the residence before she was able to escape. Police took the woman to safety, and paramedics were called.

The KP Emergency Response Unit (ERU) was called to the scene, arrived around 7:20 p.m., and an incident command post was established. “Efforts made to communicate with the Complainant from outside the unit were without success. At about 8:45 p.m., plans were agreed to enter the residence,” the report states.

According to the SIU, the rear door to the residence was opened by the ERU at about 9 p.m., which allowed officers a line of sight into the unit.

“The Complainant’s feet could be seen near the front of the residence. When no movement or sounds were discernible from the Complainant, even after a police dog was sent in and walked on top of the Complainant, the ERU entered the unit and found the Complainant — unresponsive — laying supine on the living room floor,” the report reads. ‘Supine,’ describes a body laying face up, as opposed to ‘prone,’ which describes a body laying face down.

A knife was located near the Complainant’s feet, the SIU noted. Paramedics entered the unit and found the Complainant’s vital signs absent. He was declared deceased at the scene.

Director Martino analyzed the evidence and relevant legislation, and provided the following assessment in his report.

“The… police officers that responded to the scene to deal with the Complainant were lawfully placed and engaged in the exercise of their duties throughout the engagement. It made sense to deploy the ERU to take the Complainant into custody and ensure public safety. The Complainant was waving a knife around in a threatening fashion, had stabbed a woman, and was holed up in a residence refusing (or unable) to exit. The ERU were trained for just such scenarios,” Martino stated in the report

“It is speculation whether an earlier entry might have made any difference to the Complainant’s health and well-being. Be that as it may, it seems to me the ERU acted with reasonable dispatch given the risks inherent in storming a premises with an armed individual.”

Martino concluded his report by noting there are “no reasonable grounds” to believe that any officers “transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law in their dealings with the Complainant, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges. The file is closed.”

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