Kitchener-Waterloo

Inquest says death accidental of Kieran Kay in Cambridge

Jurors examining the 2017 death of Kieran Kay found he died by accidental, acute cocaine toxicity, according to a report presented to the Waterloo regional police service board Wednesday. Nevertheless, the case has prompted police changes.

WRPS says service making changes to dispatch procedure as a result

Waterloo regional police have made changes to their dispatch procedures following the death of Kieran Kay, said Chief Bryan Larkin.

Jurors examining the 2017 death of Kieran Kay said his death was accidental and is attributed to cocaine, according to a report presented to the Waterloo regional police service board Wednesday.

On May 22, first responders were called to Kay's home in Cambridge after he reportedly began hallucinating and acting violently, coroner John Carlisle wrote in his verdict. Paramedics arrived on scene but were unable to treat Kay right away because police had not yet arrived.  

A few minutes later, an officer arrived. Kay was restrained and paramedics began treatment. He was taken to Cambridge Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead by an emergency room physician, the coroner wrote.

Following the inquest, the jury recommended that police review procedures related to dispatching an officer to a call involving a violent person.

"The evidence suggested that delays involved could have been reduced if all dispatchers were aware that, in a call where violent patient conduct is known from the outset, EMS staff will be subject to a policy that will not allow them to approach the patient and that police help will be needed and should not be delayed particularly where officers are, in fact, available and close by," Carlisle wrote.

Chief Bryan Larkin said the Waterloo Regional Police (WRPS) have already made changes as a result.

"When a Region of Waterloo paramedic requests a WRPS response, that would then be relayed to our communication centre and it becomes a Priority One call, which ensures a priority dispatch response," Larkin told CBC News.

Larkin said "a larger discussion" with paramedics about policy and procedure changes will continue post-pandemic. 

Kay's death has already been the subject of an investigation by the province's police watchdog because he died in police custody.

The Special Investigations Unit found in May 2018 there were "no reasonable grounds" to lay criminal charges against a Waterloo Regional Police Services officer in Kay's death because the cause of death was determined to be "acute cocaine toxicity."