Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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Today's police incident on Hilda

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Today, as many residents have likely read by now, there was a serious incident in Hintonburg involving police. I arrived at the site as the ambulance left and spent about 5 hours at the site speaking with family, residents and witnesses, and some more time this evening at the hospital where one of our residents is in critical condition.

Some details have been released by the Special Investigations Unit that is investigating the incident. You can read its statement here. It says:

  • “Around 10:30 a.m. this morning, Ottawa Police officers were called to the area of Wellington Street West and Fairmont Avenue for reports of a man causing a disturbance. 
  • “Officers responded and located a 37-year-old man.  Shortly after, there was a confrontation outside 55 Hilda Street.   
  • “At some point during the confrontation, the man suffered medical distress.
  • “He was transported to Ottawa Civic Hospital.  He is currently listed in critical condition.”

Media reports have also been surfacing with more details based on witness accounts.

From the descriptions of events I heard from numerous people, a fairly clear narrative emerges of what happened this morning around 10:30. I will not repeat every detail, but multiple people have described behaviour at the Bridgehead at Fairmont by the resident that led to police being called, a foot chase, and then a very rough altercation between he and police at the door of 55 Hilda that led to his being sent to hospital in cardiac arrest. Several descriptions have been provided of the police striking him, which need to be investigated. There have been multiple accounts given that he has a mental illness, and that mental capacity likely played a role in today’s events.

Tonight, he is clinging to life on life-support. The next couple of days will be very uncertain.

Several steps will need to be taken in the next couple of days. First and foremost, this incident is being investigated by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU). While I am very disturbed by what I have heard from witnesses, it is critical that they finish their work. If you have information about what happened, please call the SIU at (800) 787-8529.

The residents at 55 Hilda will also need help. I have been in touch with OCISO, and with other agencies in the city that have the expertise needed to help people cope with this very traumatic experience. My staff and I will be focused on that for much of tomorrow.

The family, of course, will also need help. I have spent much of today with them, and have put them in touch with people I trust for advice and guidance for the days ahead. I will continue to provide whatever help they need.

Finally, residents reading the media accounts and hearing rumours may also want to seek help with their own mental health. There are walk-in counselling clinics offered in the area, including at nearby Family Services Ottawa. Those clinics’ hours and locations are here. For more immediate help, you can reach the Distress Centre at (613) 238-3311. We’ve had an onslaught of horrible headlines in the past couple of weeks – don’t hesitate to reach out.

The headlines and accounts of events today have left me shaken. I admire the Ottawa Police Service, and am grateful daily for the work that they do for residents. Today’s incident raises many questions. Conflicting information is circulating, and the potential to spread misinformation is high. I have every confidence that the civilian SIU will investigate this thoroughly, and I would ask residents to wait for the results of that process before jumping to any conclusions. But, rest assured, I want the answers. None of us will rest well until those are forthcoming.

(We have closed comments on this post. This is a very sensitive time for the community. Thank you for your understanding.)

Posted July 24, 2016