Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared Peel region officers following the death of a 29-year-old woman after they were called to attend to her.
According to the report by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the incident occurred on April 18, 2020, when officers were called to the woman’s parents’ house in Brampton, as they had concerns about their daughter’s wellbeing.
The woman’s father told the dispatcher that she had been quiet and was alone in her Toronto apartment while working from home, and due to the COVID-19 lockdown, she was getting depressed. They decided to bring the woman to their house, but she had harmed herself while she was there.
Police officers were accompanied by paramedics and one officer specifically trained in dealing with mental health-related calls. A mental health professional attended the call via video conference.
The woman denied any intention of ending her life. She was then assessed by paramedics and police and deemed to be fine. A full mental health assessment was scheduled for the following day via video conference. The officers left the house at about 5.50 p.m.
Two hours later, the woman’s body was found in a grassy area near a Walmart on the corner of Mississauga Road and Williams Parkway. She had died of a self-inflicted stab wound to the chest.
According to the SIU report, the woman had left her family’s home and gone to a Walmart where she purchased a knife and a bottle of Windex cleaner.
A lawyer contacted the SIU to report the event on Oct. 13, 2020.
SIU investigators interviewed four civilian witnesses and three officers about the incident and analyzed CCTV footage from Walmart.
SIU Director Joseph Martino said while the woman’s death was a “terrible tragedy,” he found “insufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that her wound and resulting death were attributable in any way to criminal conduct on the part of the responding police officers.”
The SIU is an independent provincial agency that investigates when people are injured or killed in interactions with police. The unit also investigates allegations of sexual assault against police officers.
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