SIU investigated 20 cases in London last year, seven in Windsor, five in CK

The Special Investigations Unit file photo by Maureen Revait

When it comes to the number of investigations by the province’s Special Investigations Unit, London had the most in the Western Region, and Windsor had the fourth highest.

The agency released its annual report detailing the number and type of investigations it carried out last year on Thursday.

While Windsor was in the middle of the pack province-wide with seven investigations last year, London had the fourth highest number with 20 behind just Toronto Police Service, Peel Region Police, and the service in Ottawa.

Across Ontario, there were 382 investigations last year, a slight increase from 380 the year before.

Most often, the SIU was called in to investigate what it called “custody injuries”. A total of 198 or 51 per cent of cases involved a suspect who was injured while in police custody.

The second highest number of investigations, 15.18 per cent province-wide, involved alleged sexual assaults.

Incidents involving injuries or deaths caused by firearms were low on the list at 3.14 per cent and 1.8 per cent.

One of the seven investigations involving police shootings was in Windsor. On March 23, 2018 police officers fatally shot a 33-year-old man behind the McDonald’s at Wyandotte Street East and Goyeau Street after he threatened patrons and police with knives, injured two officers. The Windsor Police Service was later cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident.

The other investigation involving a firearm injury took place in September 2018 when police were called to a domestic disturbance at a trailer park on Division Road and fired shots at a 49-year-old man.

An investigation involving a custody injury was carried out in Amherstburg, and the Ontario Provincial Police in Leamington are listed twice for the same reason.

None of the investigations into the actions of officers with the London Police Service involved firearms, but ten involved injuries sustained while in custody. In two cases, suspects died in custody. There were five vehicle injury injuries, one vehicle death, and one sexual assault. The last case is listed as “other injury or death”.

Elgin County OPP was investigated for two custody injuries, one sexual assault, and one other injury or death. Oxford County OPP was investigated for two deaths in custody, one vehicle death and one alleged sexual assault. There was just one investigation, listed as other, involving Woodstock Police Service.

In all of Chatham-Kent, the SIU was called in five times last year, once for actions by OPP officers and four times for the Chatham-Kent Police Service. The municipal force was investigated once for sexual assault, twice for injuries sustained in custody, and once for a vehicle injury.

The police service called the SIU in 358 of the cases investigated. In just 21 cases, the investigation was launched by a complainant. The other three cases were initiated by either a witness, medical professional, the media, a lawyer, or a family or friend of the complainant.