No charges against CK police officers after man dies

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Police officers in Chatham-Kent will not be charged following the death of a man in September.

The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Joseph Martino, said he has found no reasonable grounds to believe the two officers committed a criminal offence in connection with the death of a 53-year-old man who was arrested on September 8, 2021 for trespassing at a convenience store on Charing Cross Road in Chatham. The man died a week later.

The SIU said the man resisted arrest and kicked at the officers. One of the officers struck the man with an elbow while he was being handcuffed, according to the SIU. The suspect was examined by paramedics at the scene, and was taken to the police station. He was then sent to the hospital, where he died on September 15, 2021.

Martino said the SIU investigation found no evidence to establish the officers’ conduct was responsible for the victim’s death. The victim suffered broken ribs and underwent surgery for a punctured lung, but investigators said the injuries happened earlier at a store on Queen Street in Chatham where he was involved in an altercation with another man outside of the business. The complainant was paranoid and spoke about someone trying to kill him, according to the SIU. The SIU said the man walked into the store on Charing Cross saying he was being chased and had an open wound on the back of his head.

“The cashier [who called 911] told the police officer he wanted the Complainant removed from the property,” said the SIU. “The Complainant refused to leave. At one point, the Complainant walked behind the counter, collapsed on the floor, and took hold of the cashier’s leg. The cashier was able to free himself and step aside as the officers tried to coax the Complainant up. When the Complainant refused to stand, the officers pulled him out from behind the counter, handcuffed his arms behind his back, and dragged him out of the store.”

The complainant was arrested and taken to the police station and then to the hospital with mental health issues. The man died in a London hospital of acute pneumonia with complications due to multiple rib fractures, according to the autopsy.

The investigators said three civilian witnesses were interviewed after the death, but the two officers declined to be interviewed or to provide their notes about the arrest, which is their legal right.

The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of police officers 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.