News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into London Death

Case Number: 06-OCI-158

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TORONTO (7 November, 2006) --- James Cornish, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded there is no reasonable basis to believe that any London Police Service (LPS) officers committed a criminal offence in relation to the death of Mitchell Koh.

On September 12, 2006, Mr. Koh was arrested after a struggle with several LPS officers. After his arrest, the officers believed Mr. Koh was showing signs of excited delirium and brought him to the hospital. He was admitted and died from organ failure on September 20, 2006.

As part of the investigation, the SIU designated three subject officers from the LPS. Investigators interviewed witnesses and reviewed copies of police notes and reports and the surveillance videotape from inside a store. Two knives and a broken stick were also found at the arrest scene.

The investigation determined that on September 12th, at about 6:22 a.m., two LPS officers responded to a call about a man waving a stick and two knives inside a convenience store on Southdale Road in London. The officers arrived and saw Mr. Koh through the window; he was waving the knives around. They drew their firearms and entered the store.

They identified themselves as police officers and ordered Mr. Koh to drop the knives and get on the ground. He immediately complied. One officer covered Mr. Koh as the other officer kicked the knives away. They approached Mr. Koh, who was face down, to handcuff him.

One of the officers took hold of Mr. Koh's wrist and placed the handcuff on. Mr. Koh's refused to give the officer his other arm, which was under his body, to be handcuffed. He started to struggle when the officer tried to pull his arm from under him. The officers told Mr. Koh to stop resisting and delivered several knee strikes as he continued to struggle. Eventually the officers were able to free one arm and handcuff both of Mr. Koh's hands together.

By this time, additional officers had arrived. As they walked Mr. Koh out of the store, he started to struggle again. The officers had difficulty controlling Mr. Koh as he was placed in a police cruiser. Once inside, he thrashed about and kicked at the door and window.

The arresting officers told a sergeant on scene that Mr. Koh was very strong, sweating profusely and incoherent. They believed the man was exhibiting signs of excited delirium and needed medical treatment. As a result, Mr. Koh was moved to the prisoner van and transported to the hospital.

When he arrived at the hospital, Mr. Koh was passive and his handcuffs were removed. He suddenly became violent as he walked to the awaiting stretcher and started yelling and kicking at medical staff. Hospital staff restrained Mr. Koh on the stretcher and admitted him for treatment for the suspected ingestion of an illegal substance. Mr. Koh remained in hospital and died eight days later from complete organ failure.

Director Cornish concluded that none of the involved officers caused or contributed to Mr. Koh's death. He stated, "The officers were involved in a prolonged and violent struggle to try to arrest and control this man. I am satisfied that the arrest was lawful and there is nothing in the evidence that causes me to believe that although it was a violent incident, the force used was anything but reasonable in all the circumstances. Furthermore I do not believe that police action or inaction caused or contributed to this man's untimely death. Many of the officers appear to have been trained to observe and recognize the symptoms of excited delirium and indeed they acted promptly to ensure Mr. Koh was taken to the hospital for treatment. It will be up to other processes to determine the exact cause of Mr. Koh's demise."

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
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