News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Arrest of Hamilton Man

Case Number: 06-OCI-157

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TORONTO (9 November, 2006) --- James Cornish, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded that a Hamilton Police Service (HPS) officer is not criminally responsible for the serious injury to 66-year-old Dominic Fama.

On September 12, 2006, at about 10:00 p.m., the HPS received a complaint of a suspected impaired driver in the area of Queens Garden Nursing Home in Hamilton. An HPS officer was in the vicinity, spotted the car, and activated the marked cruiser's emergency equipment. After a brief chase, the officer managed to stop the car by blocking it with the cruiser at the intersection of Queen Street North and King Street.

The officer exited his cruiser and approached the driver's side. The car window was open. The officer ordered the driver, later identified to be Mr. Fama, to turn off the engine and hand the keys over. Mr. Fama turned the engine off and asked the officer why he had been stopped. The officer responded that Mr. Fama was under arrest for impaired driving and asked again for the car keys. When Mr. Fama tried to start the car, the officer leaned in and tried to take the keys from his hand. There was a struggle for the keys as Mr. Fama grabbed the officer's arm and the officer struck Mr. Fama in the head and used his pepper spray. During the struggle, Mr. Fama continued to resist and ignored the officer's demands for the car keys.

Two officers arrived and helped the subject officer pull Mr. Fama from the car. Mr. Fama continued to struggle and resist as he was placed face down on the ground and handcuffed. When the officers turned Mr. Fama onto his back to bring him to his feet, they noticed that he had stopped struggling and gone completely still.

Paramedics were at the scene and they immediately checked Mr. Fama and found him to be without vital signs. The officers removed the handcuffs and the paramedics administered CPR for a time at the scene before transporting Mr. Fama to hospital. Upon admission to the hospital, a physician noted that Mr. Fama was unconscious in cardiopulmonary distress. He remains in hospital in a comatose state.

Director Cornish concluded that the investigation revealed that Mr. Fama suffered from a myriad of health issues. He stated, "I am satisfied on the basis of the evidence uncovered in this probe, that the arrest was lawful, the force used was not unreasonable, and that in any event the police conduct did not cause this man to lapse into a coma."

The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials (police officers as well as special constables with the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service) 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. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must

  • consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
  • depending on the evidence, cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official where grounds exist for doing so, or close the file without any charges being laid
  • publicly report the results of its investigations
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342