Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared Brockville police of any wrongdoing in the death of a Texas man on the run from a murder charge.
On Friday, the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said two Brockville police officers acted lawfully when they tried to arrest Alberto Ayala-Guerrero before he fell from the North Augusta Road overpass in late July 2020.
Ayala-Guerrero was wanted for the killing of a Texas woman on July 13, 2020 and made his way across the border into Brockville.
According to an SIU report, on July 24, 2020, he ended up in a Brockville hospital complaining of breathing problems. He gave a fake name, the SIU says, but police were contacted because he could not speak English and had no identification.
Ayala-Guerrero left before police arrived, but officers were able to track his movements back to an abandoned vehicle with Texas licence plates.
With that information, the Canada Border Services Agency also issued a warrant for his arrest.
The next day, two officers on patrol noticed a man walking on North Augusta Road with his hoodie around his head, despite the warm weather. Having been tipped off to the possibility of the wanted man being in the Brockville region, the officers were able to compare the picture sent out by the border services with the pedestrian and identify him as Ayala-Guerrero, the SIU reports.
The SIU says when he realized the police were following him, Ayala-Guerrero “scaled the overpass railing.”
One of the officers shouted at the man not to jump and ran to grab hold of him, the SIU says, but Ayala-Guerrero jumped onto the highway below.
He landed on the merging lane of the highway and sustained serious injuries, an SIU report says. After his fall, the police watchdog says the officers attempted to save the man from being struck on the highway and called paramedics to assist.
“The officer pulled him from the live lane of traffic on the gravel shoulder and comforted him, encouraging him to breathe,” the report notes.
Ayala-Guerrero was transported to hospital, where he eventually died of his injuries. A pathologist’s report determined the cause of death to be multiple blunt force injuries.
Joseph Martino, director of the SIU, says the two officers “comported themselves with due care and regard for Mr. Ayala-Guerrero’s health and safety,” and cleared them of any wrongdoing.