Ontario police oversight has found no reasonable reason to believe a police officer committed a crime after a man in London, Ont., Died in custody in February.
Fabian Hart, 34, was arrested on February 1, 2021 and placed in a police cell in London, the Special Investigation Unit reported at the time. He was pronounced dead at the hospital the next day after undergoing medical care while in custody. The cause of death has since been attributed to “amphetamine toxicity of methamphetamine”.
While SIU now says that “it might have been advisable for the officer to have taken Mr Hart to the hospital sooner than was the case”, he notes that there was “insufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that the officer’s failure to do so it was a departure from a reasonable standard of care. ”
He should have been taken to a hospital Mother London, Ont., Man who died in custody
According to the SIU report, Hart, identified as the complainant in the report, was arrested by two officers on the afternoon of February 1, 2021, for violating a court order to stay away from a woman.
Hart was placed in a police cell around 4pm and, when asked about his condition, told the sergeant in charge of the cells at the time that he had previously consumed three doses of alcohol and was expected to experience withdrawal symptoms at some point . “He denied having consumed any drugs before being arrested,” SIU said.
Around 1:40 a.m., the sergeant at the head of the detention unit at the time checked Hart, who was shivering. Hart said he was suffering from alcohol withdrawal and needed sugary drinks and the sergeant brought him juices and cereals, SIU said.
Twenty minutes later, as Hart was being transferred to another cell, SIU said he told the sergeant he was concerned he had a convulsion and the sergeant reminded him to tell staff if he needed help. The sergeant told the two cadets to observe Hart and let him know if his condition changed.
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The officer at the SIU investigation center, identified in the report as the subject officer, came on duty around 06:00 and took over from the sergeant overnight. The report noted that the subject officer refused to be interviewed or give notes, as is his legal right.
SIU reported that the subject officer and the sergeant discussed Hart’s symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Two hours later, around 8 a.m., the SIU said the subject officer had a phone call with another officer who had been trained as an assistant physician on the condition of prisoners, who at the time was just Hart. The subject officer told the officer on the phone that Hart was shaking badly, but “he was young and not in bad shape,” SIU said.
The SIU reported that the other officer said he would take Hart to the hospital if his condition worsened.
Shortly after a search of the cell at 8:20 a.m., an LPS employee told the subject officer that he was concerned about Hart’s health. The subject officer contacted two officers at 8:30 a.m. and made plans for Hart to be taken to the hospital, but 10 minutes later it was clear that Hart needed immediate medical attention, the SIU reported.
SIU said “over the next few minutes”, the entity officer, an LPS employee and two other officers administered rescue measures, “including chest compressions, naloxone administration and the use of an AED”.
The paramedics arrived around 8:50 a.m. and took care of Hart. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 9:42 a.m., SIU reported.
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The SIU found that “for most of the approximately two-and-a-half-hour period that (Hart) was in the custody of the officers, his condition had been such that it was for most of his time in the cell.”
SIU Director Joseph Martino noted in his final report that Hart was offered any assistance he needed and he never asked to be taken to hospital.
“The OS’s liability could have moved in the other direction if he had been aware that the Complainant had secreted methamphetamine in his person, and most likely, in his person,” Martino said.
“As post-mortem examinations have established, the complainant died of methamphetamine-amphetamine toxicity and not of alcohol withdrawal. The complainant, however, denied having consumed any drugs after he was arrested before being placed in a cell.
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