Police cleared after man jumps to his death in Niagara Falls


Published January 5, 2024 at 8:33 pm

An officer with the Niagara Parks Police Service has been cleared of any wrongdoing after a 19-year-old man jumped to his death in the Niagara River.

The man’s father had called police to report his son had disappeared and left behind a suicide note in his Toronto home on Sept. 9. Local police launched a search the young man that evening and pinged his phone.

The ping came back saying the man had gone to Niagara Falls. Local officers were dispatched to look for him as the ping provided officers with a general area to search.

One officer, the one subject to investigation, and her partner were among the officers searching. Later phone pings indicated the man was near River Rd. and Hiram St.

This intersection is just north of the Rainbow Bridge border crossing on the bank of Niagara River. The officers went to go check the scene and found the man walking south on along River Rd. along the water.

The officers pulled their cruiser up next to the man and ask his name. He provided an alias. The officer was fooled and got out of the car to speak to the man, confident it was who she was looking for.

As she step out, the man took off south. He ran toward a metre high retaining wall between the sidewalk and the steep escarpment leading to the water. He jumped over the barrier and fell into the river. The officer was about three metres away when the man jumped.

The Park police quickly followed with a repel team to descend the escarpment. The found the man in the water with no vital signs and pulled him up the riverbank with firefighter’s support. The man was declared dead on scene. A later autopsy found he died of “multiple blunt trauma.”

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) was brought in to investigate the man’s death since he had interacted with police just before he jumped.

Director Joseph Martin found, “the [man], leaving the officer no opportunity to intervene, bolted towards the retaining wall and climbed over. While it may be true that the officer’s overtures might have been the final impetus for the [man]’s fateful act, that alone is far from enough to attract liability in this case.”

“Given what the officer knew of his suicidal ideations, non-action in the moment might just as likely have risked harm,” he continued. As such there was no cause to charge the officer.

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