Police probe accidental release of confidential report on hotel death investigation

A 32-year-old man was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries after an early morning shooting in Ottawa's west end on Tuesday, local police say.
A 32-year-old man was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries after an early morning shooting in Ottawa's west end on Tuesday, local police say. Lars Hagberg / File / The Canadian Press

Ottawa police are investigating after documents containing personal and confidential information in a suspicious death investigation were accidentally released in an email.

On Sunday morning, documents containing names, phone numbers and statements from witnesses and details of the case were included in an email to members of the media.

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Duty Insp. Trish Ferguson said the documents were from an investigation into the suspicious death of a man who was found in a hotel room in Ottawa’s south end on Saturday night.

“It went out to the media over email, so it was a pretty limited distribution, but still something that is serious,” Ferguson said.

Ottawa police sent another email shortly after stating that the documents were unintentionally sent to the media email list and they asked that the emails be deleted.

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Police warned that if the information was published it could jeopardize the safety of the individuals and could compromise the ongoing investigation.

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Ferguson said the police force is conducting an internal investigation to determine how the documents were released and will be notifying the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.

She said the police force’s chief information officer will be handling the incident, and that the force is also in the process of notifying witnesses and anyone involved in the investigation that their personal information was accidentally released.

“To my knowledge, we haven’t had a breach of this type before,” Ferguson said. “We’re going through internally to figure out where this lies, who is responsible and what actions will be taken.”

Ottawa Police Service spokesperson Const. Chuck Benoit said on Monday the mistakenly shared documents were emailed to approximately 200 addresses.

No arrests made in connection with suspicious death; police await coroner’s report

Benoit confirmed on Monday that Ottawa police have not yet made any arrests in connection with Saturday night’s suspicious hotel death.

At approximately 11 p.m. on Saturday, officers were called to the Residence Inn by Marriott on Walkley Road, where they found the man in question dead in one of the rooms.

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Major crimes detectives are leading the investigation, according to police.

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Benoit said investigators will not be releasing any further information about the deceased man, including his name or age, until they receive a report from the coroner. He also declined to say whether the man was from Ottawa.

“At this time, it’s still an ongoing file and we’re not releasing anything at this time,” he said.

Police ask anyone with information about the suspicious death to call 613-236-1222 ext. 5493 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or by downloading the Ottawa police app.

— With files from Beatrice Britneff