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Ontario police watchdog clears officer in man’s death at downtown Toronto building fire

The Special Investigations Unit is seeking witnesses to an arrest of a woman in Lindsay on July 9, 2022. Global News

Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared an officer after a 32-year-old man died in a downtown Toronto building fire after police were originally responded to the location for an assault call in April 2020.

Toronto police were first called to the building on Victoria Street, southeast of Yonge and Dundas streets, at around 8:15 p.m. on April 17 for reports of an assault in progress.

The agency’s report stated that the caller said two men were inside an apartment yelling at each other, and “he’s going to kill me!” could be heard. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said the victim of the assault left the apartment while the other man “barricaded himself” inside the unit.

The agency said officers arrived at the 12th floor unit at 9:07 p.m. where attempts were made to speak to the 32-year-old man.

Shortly after, the agency said officers realized a fire was set and smoke was coming through the door.

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Read more: Man found dead during Toronto condo fire while police at building for assault call

Toronto Fire arrived at 9:18 p.m., where firefighters made their way into the unit and found the man. The report said the man received medical attention but was pronounced dead at the scene.  The man died as a result of smoke inhalation, the report said.

“The offence that arises for consideration is criminal negligence causing death,” SIU director Joseph Martino said in the report.

However, “there is little if anything to suggest that the officers fell short in their duty of care to the Complainant,” Martino continued.

Therefore, Martino said it was determined, “there are no reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence was committed in connection with the man’s death.”

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

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