Hamilton officer won’t face charges in relation to man’s death at Devil’s Punchbowl: watchdog

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Published February 2, 2022 at 11:40 am

A Hamilton Police Services officer will not face criminal charges in relation to a man’s death at the Devil’s Punchbowl in October 2021, Ontario’s police watchdog has concluded.

According to a report released Wednesday (Feb. 2), the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) found no grounds to pursue charges against an officer who responded to calls of a person in distress at the gorge in upper Stoney Creek on the afternoon of Oct. 4.

The report said that Hamilton Police received a 9-11 call from a woman claiming that her daughter was in the process of breaking up with her boyfriend at the Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area and there was a concern that the man was suicidal.

Upon arrival, officers allegedly spoke with a man matching the description provided to them who told them he was not the person they were looking for and they continued their search for the individual in distress.

The SIU report said that officers then came across the woman whose mother called 9-11 and she informed police that the man they spoke to was in fact the man they were looking for.

As officers turned back to help, the man reportedly “ran toward the cliff edge of the plateau, jumping into the gorge below – a drop of about 34 metres,” the report said.

Emergency crews tried to perform CPR but the 31-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

The SIU was called in to investigate as the man interacted with police moments before his fatal fall.

“Aside from shouting at him to stop what he was doing, the officers, metres away from him at the time, had no opportunity to intercede to prevent the Complainant’s fall,” SIU director Joseph Martino wrote in his findings.

“Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.”

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