SIU closes investigation into overdose in cells at Kingston Police station

Kingstonist file photo.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has closed the case on an investigation into the hospitalization of a 38-year-old man (the Complainant) in February who began displaying signs of overdose while in Kingston Police custody. The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of police officers that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault, and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians.

On Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, members of the Kingston Police Drug Enforcement Unit, with the assistance of the Kingston Police Emergency Response Unit, executed a drug search warrant at a building located on Park Street and seven individuals were arrested at that time.

According to the incident narrative provided by the SIU, upon arrest at the Park Street address, the Complainant, who was not a target of the search warrant, had his pockets and beltline searched, and the arresting officer found nothing. When asked, the Complainant denied consuming any drugs and having drugs on his person.

SIU said the search warrant was executed “in the afternoon”, and the Complainant was placed in the cells at the Kingston Police station at 6:10 p.m.

“In the course of his booking, he denied having drugs or having consumed drugs. In fact, the Complainant had consumed a quantity of crystal methamphetamine,” SIU said in the narrative.

At approximately 7:30 p.m., the Complainant began showing signs of overdose, SIU stated. The Officer-In-Charge was notified by a civilian employee of the service who saw the occurrence on a video monitor. The Complainant was again asked if he had consumed any substance, and again he denied it, stating he was “okay”.

Paramedics were called to the station. The Complainant was taken to Kingston General Hospital and treated for an overdose of crystal methamphetamine and eventually discharged without any adverse health consequences, according to the SIU.

On Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, Kingston Police contacted the SIU to report that a male they had taken into custody the day before – the Complainant – had been taken from cells to hospital and admitted into the ICU. The SIU initiated an investigation naming the arresting officer as the subject official (SO). “A subject official is an official (whether a police officer, a special constable of the Niagara Parks Commission or a peace officer with the Legislative Protective Service) whose conduct appears, in the opinion of the SIU Director, to have been a cause of the incident under investigation,” SIU stated.

The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Joseph Martino, terminated the investigation, saying, “in my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s hospitalization.”

“There is little to no evidence that the SO or any of the other officers who had a hand in his arrest and custody were remiss in their duty of care towards the Complainant,” Martino continued. “From the moment he was confronted at the site of his arrest to his discovery in cells in medical distress, the Complainant had repeatedly been asked whether he had drugs or had consumed any drugs. He consistently replied in the negative. Nor did the Complainant give the officers any reason to be concerned by his physical appearance and demeanour. He seemed well and was lucid through most of his time in custody. Within minutes of becoming aware that the Complainant was in trouble, prompt action was taken to secure expert medical attention. Importantly, the Complainant had also been subjected to two searches at the apartment and another search at the police station prior to being lodged in cells, each of which failed to turn up any evidence of drugs or drug consumption.”

“There is no basis for proceeding with charges in this case. The file is closed.”

Read the full report on the SIU website.

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