ST. CATHARINES – Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit has cleared Niagara Regional Police in connection with the death of a woman, who stabbed herself in the neck.
The incident happened on Oct. 24 in St. Catharines.
According to investigators, NRP officers were dispatched to a residence on St. Paul Street West in response to a report of a domestic dispute.
Officrs had been told a man had been assaulted by his 28-year-old girlfriend and that the woman was hurting herself.
Upon entering the apartment, police saw the woman holding a knife and ordered her to drop the weapon.
Instead, the woman “plunged” the knife into the right side of her neck.
Officers attempted to provide medical assistance the woman, who was then transported by ambulance to St. Catharines General hospital before being transfered to Hamilton General hospital.
The woman died of her injuroies four days later.
A post-mortem examination concluded the woman died of “hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy” as a result of a partially severed right carotid artery, the SIU concludes.
“In my view, the woman’s death was a tragic event in which the police officers did nothing wrong,” SIU director Ian Scott said in a media release announcing the findings of his agency’s investigation into the incident.
“Quite the opposite; they attempted to save her life after she stabbed herself by applying pressure to the wound and seeking immediate aid.
Scott continued: “Unfortunately, she died as a result of the self-inflicted knife wound four days later due to no fault of the officers who were initially dispatched to the call.”
The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must consider whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation depending on the evidence, lay a criminal charge against the officer if appropriate or close the file without any charges being laid report the results of any investigations to the Attorney General.