SIU clears Ottawa police officers after man dies in jail cell after ‘ingesting a substance’

By Anil Jhalli

Ontario’s police watchdog has found that Ottawa police officers committed no wrongdoing in connection to the death of a suspect who died in his jail earlier this summer.

On Aug. 3, 2023, Ottawa police officers were called to a residence for a domestic disturbance. One man was arrested for assault and possession of drugs, and placed in a cell.

While in his cell, the man apparently ingested a substance he had retrieved from his buttocks. A short time later, he was unresponsive in his cell. He died five days later in hospital.

“There are no questions raised in the evidence around the lawfulness of the complainant’s (the suspect) arrest,” said Special Investigations Unit (SIU) director Joseph Martino in his report. “It appears that there were grounds to take the complainant into custody for assault and possession of illicit substances.”

The SIU report said it has not received autopsy or toxicology reports. The cause of death remains undetermined.

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