Police watchdog clears Winnipeg officers after death of man during 2019 arrest

Manitoba's police watchdog has cleared officers in the death of a man who was arrested following a break-in attempt.

Pathology report says death of Sean Thompson, 30, was caused by caused mix of cocaine, meth and ethanol

Sean Thompson died June 26, 2019, after being arrested following a break-in. (Submitted by Felix Thompson)

Manitoba's police watchdog has cleared officers in the death of a man who was arrested following a break-in attempt last year.

The year-long examination of the case by the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba has determined Sean Thompson, 30, died from mixed-drug intoxication, caused by a combination of cocaine, methamphetamine and ethanol.

Police were called to a home on Alfred Avenue, in the city's North End, around 2:30 a.m. on June 26, 2019, about a break-in, according to the IIU report, released Wednesday.

When they arrived, Thompson was found across the lane, sitting on the steps of a house on Burrows Avenue. He was bleeding after being cut by glass during the break-in, and was moaning and yelling, the report says.

Police pulled him down from the stairs and onto the ground, where they handcuffed him. They were asking him questions when Thompson lost consciousness.

One of the officers shook him then took off the handcuffs, rolled him over and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

Thompson was rushed to St. Boniface Hospital and pronounced dead.

As the matter concerned the death of a person who had been in contact with officers, the Winnipeg Police Service notified the Independent Investigation Unit, which investigates all serious incidents involving police in Manitoba, the same day.

During the investigation, the IIU interviewed two civilian witnesses and five witness officers. The unit also reviewed:

  • Winnipeg Police Services officers' notes and narrative reports.
  • WPS call history.
  • WPS forensic identification reports and photographs.
  • 911 call audio recordings.
  • WPS radio transmission recordings.
  • Video from the police helicopter.
  • Download reports from officers' Tasers (stun guns were pulled out but never used during the incident).
  • Pathology and autopsy reports.

The IIU concluded that the officers' actions were restrained and justified "and in no way caused or contributed to the death" of Thompson.

"Therefore, there is no further requirement to continue with the investigation, and the file is now closed," the report says.

An inquest into Thompson's death has been called, as required under the Fatality Inquiries Act.