CHATHAM – The Ontario police watchdog has cleared two Chatham-Kent police officers in the death of a 53-year-old man following his September arrest.

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CHATHAM – The Ontario police watchdog has cleared two Chatham-Kent police officers in the death of a 53-year-old man following his September arrest.

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Joseph Martino, the director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), said there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either officer committed a criminal offense in connection with the death of the complainant.

The inquest began after the man died on September 15 after being airlifted to London Health Sciences Centre. He was initially admitted to an area hospital for psychiatric examination after he was arrested at an area store by police for trespassing.

During this September 8 arrest, the man allegedly resisted and kicked the police. One of the officers hit the man with an elbow while he was handcuffed, according to SIU reports. The man – who was suffering from a mental health crisis – was then examined by paramedics at the scene before being taken to the police station and then transferred to hospital.

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While in the hospital, the plaintiff asked to have his ribs checked, saying he had a fight before he was admitted, the SIU noted in the report. X-rays taken the next day revealed multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung.

Arrangements were made to insert a chest drain, which was completed on September 14. Further imaging showed extensive bilateral rib fractures, prompting his transfer to London Hospital where he died.

“On this case, I cannot reasonably conclude that a single nudge (delivered as the officers struggled to handcuff his arms) and the officers’ efforts to control his arms were more than necessary to subdue the Complainant and proceed with his arrest,” Martino said in his report.

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“Nor does the medical evidence establish that this force resulted in the serious physical injuries that ultimately led to the Applicant’s death. On the contrary, the preponderant weight of the evidence, including medical evidence and statements made by the Complainant during his hospital stay, strongly suggests that the Complainant’s injuries were inflicted prior to his interaction with (subject officers) the day in question. »

According to the pathologist after an autopsy, medical evidence suggested the plaintiff’s death was “attributable to acute pneumonia with complications from multiple rib fractures,” the SIU said.

Martino said officers are immune from criminal liability under the Criminal Code for the use of force in the performance of their duties, provided the force is “reasonably necessary for the execution of an act that they were required or authorized by law” in the circumstances.

Martino added he was pleased officers showed ‘care and consideration for (the man’s) welfare’, noting they had arranged for paramedics to be at the scene .

“It was only after being cleared by paramedics that the complainant was taken to the police station,” he said. “The complainant was only there for a short time before the officer responsible for his booking became concerned for his mental health and had him taken to hospital by paramedics.”

The SIU investigates cases of serious injury, sexual assault or death involving civilians in Ontario during interactions with police.

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