The Police Thunked She Was Dead

A little more training might be needed for these boys in blue.

Police officers in Guelph, Ont., have been cleared of wrongdoing after they mistakenly pronounced a woman dead in a hotel room.

The “situation was not handled exactly according to current policy,” but there was “no officer misconduct,” police said.

“I am confident we are unlikely to see a recurrence of this nature,” chief Rob Davis said in a release.

On Jan. 11, police were called to a Days Inn in the south end of the city, located 100 km west of Toronto, after staff found what they thought was a dead woman in one of the rooms.

Officers arrived and also determined the woman was dead. They sealed the room and launched a criminal investigation because it appeared “the victim met her demise as a result of foul play.”

“Evidence indicated that everyone that came in contact with the victim during the initial discovery by motel staff, management and later, by more than one responding officer, genuinely believed the victim to be deceased,” police said Friday.

But when forensic investigators arrived on scene, they discovered the woman had very faint vital signs. She was taken to hospital where she was treated for non-life-threatening injures and released.

Police have not said what injuries the woman sustained or how she was injured.

Police policy says, “officers are not qualified to pronounce death unless certain obvious signs exist.”

Police said in this case the officers made their decision “based on their examination of the scene and the victim’s condition.”

The officers involved have been retrained in how to pronounce deaths, police said.

“For those officers involved, it was a definite eye-opening experience,” the police force said, adding the internal investigation is now closed.

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  1. Unless the person’s head is completely severed, their heart is missing, or the body is in an advanced state of decomposition, police officers have no business declaring anyone dead. Only a doctor should do that.

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