«There was no weapon and my father was frail. I think there was a lack of experience and they didn’t think before putting on the handcuffs.»
The son of a man who died in police custody said the Ottawa police officers who attended the dispute that ended in his father’s death were inexperienced and didn’t do enough to save him.
Salvatore Crupi said there was no reason for constables Stephanie Cuming and Tara Anderson to handcuff his father, Carmelo Crupi, when they arrested him in his Barrhaven home on July 27, 2006.
“There was no weapon and my father was frail,” he said at the inquest yesterday into his father’s death. “I think there was a lack of experience and they didn’t think before putting on the handcuffs.”
He claimed police officers stood waiting for paramedics while the 65-year-old man lay unconscious. They did not perform CPR on him, he said.
George Dzioba, counsel for Coroner Dr. Gordon Watt, said Crupi had a quarrel with his wife before striking her in the face with his cane on July 26. After a visit to the hospital for medication, an argument erupted with his son, Salvatore.
In a tape of the 9-1-1 call, recorded at 12:44 a.m. on July 27, Crupi can be heard calling his son profanities and threatening to kill him. “I think my father is getting a little out of control here,” Salvatore Crupi is heard to say.
Cuming attended the Crupi home on the night of the incident. “I took Mrs. Crupi to one side and she said, ‘my husband hit me in the face with his cane’,” Cuming said, adding that gave her grounds to arrest Crupi on charges of partner assault.
“I remember him being very, very strong,” Cuming said. “It took us quite a while to put the handcuffs on him.”
Minutes later, he developed breathing problems. Officers called for backup and paramedics when Crupi collapsed. Cuming said the cuffs were removed and she began CPR, which another officer took over.
There was never a time when officers stood and did nothing, she said.
Crupi had a major blockage in his arteries, which appeared to be the cause of his death, said Dr. Brian Johnston, a pathologist.
The inquest continues today.