News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Custody Death in Hartington

Case Number: 06-PCD-031

Other News Releases Related to Case 06-PCD-031

SIU Investigates Custody Death in Hartington

Witness Assistance

Fill Out a Witness Form

TORONTO (6 July, 2006) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), James Cornish, has concluded there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers are criminally responsible for the death of 44-year-old Susan Maleska on February 24, 2006.

The SIU investigation determined that on that date, police officers executed a controlled substances search warrant at a home on Harrowsmith Road. Officers arrested Ms. Maleska on possession-related charges. When asked by officers if she had ingested any drugs prior to her arrest, Ms. Maleska denied using any illicit drugs.

She was escorted to the OPP South Frontenac detachment and lodged in a police cell at about 2:30 a.m. During their contact with Ms. Maleska, several officers stated she was lucid and did not appear to be under the influence of drugs.

An officer went to Ms. Maleska's cell at about 2:50 a.m., and found she was unresponsive and convulsing. The officers immediately called for an ambulance and attempted to put Ms. Maleska in the recovery position. The paramedics arrived at 3:14 a.m. to find Ms. Maleska with no vital signs. They began, and continued, resuscitation efforts both at the detachment and in the ambulance while en route to the hospital. At one point they were able to establish a faint pulse. She was transported to Kingston General Hospital where she died.

A post mortem examination disclosed no anatomical cause of death. Toxicology examinations revealed potentially lethal levels of an illegal substance in Ms. Maleska's blood.

Director Cornish concluded the evidence of the officers that Ms. Maleska exhibited no overt signs of the influence of drugs is confirmed by the detachment video. He stated, "The officers involved were dealing with a woman who had ingested a lethal quantity of a drug which had not yet begun to show its effects. By the time it did, the officers and EMS personnel had insufficient time to act to save her life."

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