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Police cleared by SIU in Collingwood woman's death

Special Investigations Unit finds no reason to charge police after local woman's self-inflicted death on Dec. 22, 2023
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Warning: The following story contains graphic information that some readers may find disturbing. 

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says it has found no reason to charge Collingwood police in the self-inflicted death of a local woman just before Christmas. 

According to the report from the SIU director tasked with looking into the events leading up to the woman's death, OPP officers conducted themselves properly. 

The investigation delved into the events of Dec. 22, 2023, beginning at 12:08 a.m. when a Collingwood woman called 911 to say she needed police at her apartment immediately because there were two men at the front door trying to get in. 

By 12:17 a.m., police arrived at the apartment, but couldn't reach the woman inside and the door was locked. Police could see the woman through her window, and reported she was picking up a golf club and pacing back and forth, according to the SIU report.  

When police did speak to the woman in the apartment, she told them she didn't believe they were police. 

By 12:34 a.m., a police officer at the scene told the other officers to "knock the door" because the woman was "cutting her throat." 

The woman was face down on the floor, bleeding from her neck when police got into the apartment by breaking the door, and performed first-aid. They said the woman told them her name and officers were attempting to comfort her by telling her to "hold on" and having her squeeze their hand.

The woman was bleeding heavily and there was a kitchen knife nearby with blood on it. 

An ambulance crew arrived by 12:52 a.m. and at 1:13 a.m. they stopped life-saving measures. The woman was pronounced deceased. 

The SIU's mandate is invoked whenever a person dies or sustains injury while in police custody or during interaction with police. 

Because OPP officers were surrounding the home when the woman was fatally wounded, the SIU was notified and initiated an investigation. 

In his report, SIU director Joseph Martino found the police officer was at the scene lawfully and that the officer and his colleagues conducted themselves with due care and regard for the woman's safety though the incident. 

"The officers seem to have quickly realized that there was, in fact, no attempted break-in and that, instead, they were dealing with a person in distress," stated the SIU director's report. "They attempted to win the (woman's) confidence by assuring her they were there to help." 

The report further states the officers broke through the door when they realized the woman had cut herself. 

"The (woman) had not expressed any suicidal ideations, but had expressly told the officers not to enter her home," Martino stated in his report. "I am unable to reasonably conclude that the officers were remiss with respect to when they entered the residence." 

The director said there was no basis for criminal charges and the file is now closed. 

Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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