An Ontario Provincial Police constable who failed to respond to a dying woman's 911 call, cleared the call hours later despite never having gone to her home, and implied to a dispatcher that he had taken action when he had not, has been demoted for two years after pleading guilty to neglect of duty.
At about 4:45 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2014, 54-year-old Kathryn Missen dialled 911 from her home in Casselman, Ont., southeast of Ottawa, according to the OPP's disciplinary decision.
She was in medical distress, according to her family, and was unable to speak.
OPP Const. David Dionne was dispatched to the home at about 6:15 p.m. He was told by the dispatcher that no one spoke during the 911 call, and that Bell Canada confirmed there was trouble on the phone line.
Nine hours later, the dispatcher contacted Dionne to ask what was going on. Dionne cleared the call, saying "Confirmed trouble on line, NFA" (NFA stands for no further action).
Missen was found dead in her home two days after her 911 call, on Sept. 3, when a neighbour who was concerned about Missen's well-being called OPP.
'You have now seen us at our worst'
Dionne was charged with two counts of neglect of duty, and pleaded guilty at an OPP disciplinary hearing in January 2017.
In February 2017, OPP Supt. Robin McElary-Downer demoted Dionne from first-class constable to second-class constable for a period of two years, which will amount to about $32,000 in lost salary.
"Commendably, you found the inner strength to [voice your concerns] during your darkest days," McElary-Downer wrote in her penalty decision, addressing Missen's family directly.
"Your complaint exposed the OPP's failure to respond; you have now seen us at our worst and know intimately how we let down your loved one when she needed us most. For this I am truly sorry. I can only hope that one day we can prove to you that this moment in time does not define who we really are."
In July 2016, McElary-Downer found Dionne guilty of neglect of duty and deceit, but a mistrial was granted after it came to light that Dionne's then lawyer represented another officer charged in relation to the incident.
The other officer was later found not guilty of deceit in a separate decision.
Coroner's inquest announced
A coroner's inquest, announced in early February, will examine whether flaws in the province's 911 system and the co-ordination of emergency responders may have contributed to Missen's death, as well as the deaths of three people in Sudbury, Ont., in a boating incident in 2013.
Missen's relatives said in a news release in February that they're relieved an inquest is being held.
"So many errors, delays and miscommunications were made in the minutes and hours after Kathryn called 911 that there is clearly a huge systemic problem," said Brenda Missen.
"And, sadly, the case in Sudbury shows that it was not just an isolated event. We are so relieved this joint inquest is going forward. We hope recommendations will be made and put in place so that this never happens to anyone else."
A date for the inquest has not yet been set.