SIU Concludes Investigation into Custody Death in St. Catharines
Case Number: 05-OCD-161
Other News Releases Related to Case 05-OCD-161
On October 10, 2005, Mr. Campbell was arrested and lodged in a police cell. The next morning, he was found to be in medical distress and taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Four SIU investigators were assigned to investigate what role, if any, the police played in Mr. Campbell's death. During the investigation, investigators designated 3 subject officers whose actions were the focus of the probe. Fifteen police and civilian witnesses were interviewed and cell area video, police reports, and the NRPS cell and custody policy were reviewed. Forensic identification videotaped and photographed the cell Mr. Campbell was lodged in and analyzed the evidentiary items.
The SIU investigation determined that on October 10, 2005, Mr. Campbell and his friend went into Lucky's Video store in Thorold. The storeowner suspected Mr. Campbell of stealing an ice cream bar and followed him out of the store to confront him. There was a physical confrontation and Mr. Campbell ran off with his friend. The owner went back into the store and called police at 2:16 p.m.
Officers responded and as part of the investigation, went to a home on St. Davids Road East. The police entered the home and arrested Mr. Campbell for robbery. During the course of the arrest, Mr. Campbell was angry and mildly struggled with two officers. He calmed down while in the police cruiser and was taken to 11 Division in St. Catharines, arriving at about 2:45 p.m.
The evidence indicates that while at the police station, Mr. Campbell spoke clearly and walked without assistance. None of the officers who interacted with Mr. Campbell believed he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol however, one officer did note Mr. Campbell seemed 'groggy.' Standard processing procedures were followed as police asked Mr. Campbell questions about his health and photographed and fingerprinted him. None of the responses they received gave them any cause to be concerned about Mr. Campbell's well being.
Mr. Campbell was placed in a cell at about 3:44 p.m. where he remained throughout the night. During this time, officers physically checked the cell area approximately every 30 minutes; all officers observed him to be snoring and sleeping. A review of the cell videotape also shows Mr. Campbell in his cell and moving around from time to time throughout his sleep.
At about 7:29 a.m., Mr. Campbell did not respond to the officer serving breakfast. The officer entered the cell and found Mr. Campbell to be unresponsive and in some kind of medical distress. Officers started CPR until the paramedic team arrived. Mr. Campbell was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A post mortem examination and subsequent toxicology tests determined that Mr. Campbell consumed lethal amounts of illicit substances in the hours before his arrest.
Having reviewed all of the available evidence, Director Cornish concluded the arrest of Mr. Campbell was lawful and that the police used only minimal force to overcome Mr. Campbell's mild to moderate resistance. Director Cornish said, "There is no evidence that any act or omission on the part of any police officer caused or contributed to the tragic and untimely death of Mr. Campbell."
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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