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Police officer cleared of wrongdoing after K9 dog bites Ontario suspect who dies

After several months, the Special Investigations Unit has cleared a provincial police officer in connection with a Midland man’s death.

The director of the Special Investigations Unit, Joseph Martino, said Tuesday he found no reasonable grounds to believe an Ontario Provincial Police officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the death of a 45-year-old man last November.

The civilian agency, which investigates when people die or are seriously injured during police actions, says South Georgian Bay OPP responded to a gun-rated call involving two men in Midland on Oct. 13, 2023.

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The police watchdog said in a release that officers tried to arrest the man after he brandished an apparent firearm at another male.

A police service dog was then sent into the apartment before officers entered.

The civilian agency reported the dog bit and held the man, allowing him to be taken into custody by officers.

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Martino noted that police gave the man ample opportunity to surrender peacefully and only sent in the dog when attempted negotiations over more than five hours proved futile.

The man died in the hospital a few weeks later, on Nov. 5.

Martino said it remained unclear whether and to what extent the police dog bite and the resulting infection that set in were causally related to the man’s death.

While the cause of death is not yet known, Martino noted he was satisfied that the dog’s use was reasonably necessary force.

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