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SIU clears police in death of man who tried to jump from hospital window

Toronto police did nothing wrong in their handling of a mentally disturbed man who died after an altercation at Sunnybrook hospital in which he tried to throw himself out of a fifth-floor window, the Special Investigations Unit has concluded.

Detained under the Mental Health Act, the unidentified 42-year man was taken to the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre on Jan. 23 for surgery to repair some unspecified, self-inflicted wounds.

When he awoke the next day he panicked and tried to escape the ward but could not open the door into the hallway, the SIU said.

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After assaulting a nurse, the man then fled into another patient's room and blocked the door.

As medical and security staff tried to break into the room, the man smashed a window and climbed through it, leaving himself dangling outside, five floors up.

Police had by then arrived and together with hospital staff they were able to get into the room and drag him back inside, bleeding heavily.

The patient was placed face down on the floor and injected with a sedative by medical staff.

He was then turned face up and found to be not breathing. CPR was performed, and the man was revived and then placed in the hospital's Critical Care Unit.

On Tuesday he died as a result of injuries he had sustained before police arrived, the SIU said, but it was not clear whether the wounds were the ones that brought him to Sunnybrook in the first place, or whether they were incurred as he went through the window.

A post-mortem to determine the cause of death is to be held.

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Either way, SIU director Ian Scott said in a statement, "Since the information collected indicates that his injuries were caused prior to the arrival of the police and that the officers did not contribute to his injuries and subsequent unfortunate death, I am closing this investigation."

The Mississauga-based civilian-staffed SIU examines all police-civilian incidents that result in death or serious injury, or in which there is an allegation against police of sexual assault.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date for the incident. This version has been corrected.

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At The Globe and Mail since 1982, in assorted manifestations, chiefly crime reporter, foreign correspondent and member of the Editorial Board, Tim is now retired. More

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