Kitchener-Waterloo

SIU rules no charges to be laid against officer in 2021 death of Stratford toddler

Ontario's police watchdog says it has found no reasonable grounds to charge a Stratford Police Service officer in connection with the tragic death of an 18-month-old boy in February of 2021.

Investigation launched after questions raised about police conduct prior to death

Ontario's SIU clears officer of wrongdoing in connection with death of 18-month-old boy from Stratford in February 2021 (The Canadian Press)

Ontario's police watchdog says it found no reasonable grounds to charge an officer with the Stratford Police Service in the death of an 18-month-old boy in Stratford, Ont., in 2021.

On the morning of Feb. 16, first responders were dispatched to an address on Downie Street in Stratford. They arrived to find a child without vital signs. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Concerns surrounding the well-being of the boy were first brought to the attention of Stratford Police Service the month before, said the SIU report. According to reports, the police service was made aware that the 18-month-old old looked "really malnourished," and was being ignored when crying and force fed to go to sleep. The parents were also reported to be drug users.

Because of that information, the question arose whether the police could have done more to prevent the toddler's death in the days before he died. 

In a news release sent to CBC News on Tuesday, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Joseph Martino, said he found no reasonable grounds to believe that a Stratford Police Service officer committed a criminal offence.

Director Martino did however find that the officer fell short in his duty of care towards the child but concluded that the officer's conduct did not transgress the limits of care prescribed by criminal law.

now