February 13, 2019 12:37 pm
Updated: February 13, 2019 3:31 pm

Barrie police cleared in death of Olando Brown: SIU

A memorial for Olando Brown in Barrie, who died while in police custody in 2018. SIU, in a report released Wednesday, cleared Barrie police of any wrongdoing in Brown's death.

Hannah Jackson / Global News

Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against any Barrie police officer in relation to the death of man in Barrie last June.

According to Barrie police, on June 22 at approximately 2:30 p.m., officers arrested 32-year-old Olando Brown and transported him to the Barrie Police Services building.

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Police say during the booking process, Brown went into medical distress and was immediately transported to the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre by Simcoe County paramedics, where he was pronounced dead.

READ MORE: Friends of Barrie man who died in police custody honour their friend, look for justice

Shortly after the incident, witness video surfaced online, which showed three officers engaged in the arrest. During the video, a conducted energy weapon (CEW) could be seen being used multiple times by police.

According to a statement issued by SIU on Wednesday, Brown’s death has been attributed to him swallowing two plastic bags while at the Barrie police station.

In the SIU report, investigators say while officers were conducting a strip search of Brown, he removed some packaged items from his rectal area and attempted to swallow them.

The SIU says police officers directed him to spit them out and attempted to prevent Brown from swallowing the packages.

“Shortly thereafter, the complainant lost all vital signs and became unresponsive,” the report reads.

The report says officers immediately initiated CPR and other life-saving measures, and paramedics were called in to assist.

The SIU says Brown was taken to hospital by ambulance, where during the course of his treatment, two golf ball-sized plastic bags were removed from his airway.

Investigators say he was pronounced dead a short time later.

READ MORE: Barrie police chief calls death of man in police custody ‘a very tragic incident’

According to the report, in September of 2018, the SIU received a copy of the final post-mortem examination report.

In the report, the forensic pathologist found the CEW used during Brown’s arrest did not cause any injury and there was no direct connection between the CEW and Brown’s collapse and death.

The SIU says the pathologist’s report concluded that the cause of death was attributed to “airway obstruction by a foreign body,” namely the plastic balled objects located in Brown’s trachea at the time of his death.

According to the SIU, analysis conducted later by Health Canada determined the two packages found in Brown’s trachea contained heroin, fentanyl, caffeine and dimethylsulphone.

However, a toxicology analysis of Brown’s blood during the post-mortem examination revealed none of the drugs had entered his blood stream prior to his death.

The toxicology analysis found that Brown’s blood contained cocaine, THC and their derivatives in amounts consistent with recreational use, however, these drugs did not contribute to his death.

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter Toronto holds rally in Barrie after death of Olando Brown

“On this evidence, I have no hesitation in finding that the Complainant’s death, however tragic, occurred not as a result of the actions of police, but rather despite the actions of police. It is clear that their actions were specifically aimed at saving the Complainant’s life,” SIU director Tony Laparco’s decision reads.

“In the final analysis, there is no doubt that the Complainant, for whatever reason, decided to voluntarily ingest the two packages of narcotics that he had secreted on his person, and that he thereby caused his own death, whether intentional or not.”

The SIU says there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against any Barrie police officer in connection with the incident.



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