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SIU clears officers after man died in police cell in Thunder Bay

The emblem of Ontario's Special Investigations Unit is seen in headquarters in Mississauga, Ont., on Sept. 27, 2013.
The emblem of Ontario's Special Investigations Unit is seen in headquarters in Mississauga, Ont., on Sept. 27, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Ontario’s police watchdog says a man who died in his cell last summer received “substandard” care from Thunder Bay police, but there are no grounds to lay criminal charges against any officers.

The Special Investigations Unit says police were called to a church on Aug. 2, 2014 and found an unconscious man who turned out to be seriously intoxicated.

The SIU says paramedics checked him out before police took him to the station, where he was placed in a cell.

The agency says the man was found unresponsive in the early morning hours of Aug. 3 and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

SIU director Tony Loparco says that while the officers were right to arrest him “for his own safety,” they should have taken him to hospital after he complained of breathing difficulties.

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And he says the man was left unattended in his cell for more than five hours, despite police policies that require jailers to make physical checks of any prisoners every half hour.

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