Police not at fault for Barrie man's drug overdose while in custody: SIU

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Neither Barrie police nor Bracebridge OPP are at fault after a 44-year-old man ingested fentanyl while in custody and overdosed, Ontario’s police watchdog has ruled.

Special Investigations Unit (SIU) director Joseph Martino said officers had no reasonable way of knowing the man secretly used the drug while in a cell at the Barrie police station.

“The drugs appear to have been secreted within or on the man’s person and undiscoverable except perhaps via a strip or body cavity search, the grounds for which may not have existed, and the man’s time in BPS custody was very short, lasting no more than about an hour before he was transferred to the OPP,” Martino said in a media release.

The Barrie man recovered from his overdose, which took hold while he was in the custody of Bracebridge OPP.

“When the man began to appear unwell, he was quickly taken to hospital where he was treated for a drug overdose,” Martino said.

He had been arrested after the OPP conducted a drug raid at a Barrie hotel Dec. 2.

Police found cocaine and fentanyl when the man was searched before being lodged in a Barrie jail cell. He was then transferred to Bracebridge on an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

“While in OPP custody in Bracebridge, the police had no reason to believe that the man had ingested a significant quantity of fentanyl until he began to appear unwell, at which point the evidence indicates they acted quickly to take him to hospital,” Martino said.

Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance