Family denies drugs in home
SIU probing officers' conduct

Police involved in a fatal struggle with a father of six in his west-end home Friday night were part of a special team of officers responding to complaints that the home contained several marijuana plants, a lawyer for the officers says.

"It was a drug depot, a marijuana distribution outlet," Toronto Police Association lawyer Gary Clewley said in an interview.

Clewley represents the dozen or so officers who entered a duplex on Mulock Ave., in the St. Clair Ave. W. and Keele St. area, shortly after 1:30 a.m. Friday.

Paulo Medeiros, 34, died after the struggle with officers, said Rose Bliss of the province's Special Investigations Unit, a civilian agency that investigates police incidents involving serious injury or death.

An autopsy returned no conclusive results. The coroner's office is awaiting the results of toxicology and pathology tests before determining a cause of death, according to the SIU.

Medeiros' family members deny he had any involvement with drugs.

But Clewley said the officers he represents could smell marijuana at the door of the home and police seized a "large quantity" of the drug.

The officers are part of a recently formed squad created to respond to public complaints about drugs. The Mulock Ave. home was on their list, Clewley said, adding police had a valid search warrant.

According to their lawyer, police entered the home and attempted to arrest Medeiros. He resisted, and officers used pepper spray and their batons, Clewley said. Eventually they were able to get handcuffs on him, but Medeiros lost consciousness and an ambulance was called. He died later in hospital.

Police officers are entitled to use force to control a suspect. The SIU investigation will determine whether the amount of force used was legally justified.

"Nobody wanted anyone to die, that's for sure, but the guy was supposed to surrender when he was told to and not try to get away," Clewley said.

The SIU has interviewed family members present during the melee, and officers have provided equipment and clothing for examination.

There was nobody at the Mulock Ave. home last night, but a dozen candles were left burning on the front porch in a shrine that included several bouquets of flowers.

Investigators have not yet approached officers for interviews but will likely designate several subject and witness officers within a few days. Unlike witness officers, subject officers are not required to answer investigators' questions.

Clewley said it is likely all the officers will co-operate with the investigation.