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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Inquest to examine Delhi man’s death - Jeff Marreel died after being Tasered by police

September 16, 2010

An inquest will begin next month into the death of a Delhi man who died after being Tasered by Norfolk OPP in June 2008.

But that's offering little comfort to the man's father, who says he continues to be frustrated by a lack of answers in the case.

"Why will it do any good? It's two years afterwards," Noel Marreel said of the inquest, which begins Oct. 12 in Hamilton.

The death of his son Jeffrey "should never have happened, but it did," he added. "I'm getting stonewalled. You give up after a while."

A jury of five will be convened at the John Sopinka Courthouse in Hamilton to hear evidence from about 21 witnesses.

Police Tasered and then arrested Marreel after being called to the lakeside hamlet of Fisher's Glen following a report of a man acting erratically.

There, police found the 36-year-old — who had a lengthy criminal record, including arrests on drug charges — brandishing a piece of metal.

Marreel was subdued and taken to the OPP detachment in Simcoe where he showed signs of "medical distress." He was taken by ambulance to Norfolk General Hospital where he died.

No criminal charges can come from the inquest, which is expected to last six days, but the jury can make recommendations on public policy, said Dr. David Eden, regional supervising coroner for operations for the ministry of community safety and correctional services.

"The recommendations are not binding, but the majority of them are implemented," noted Eden.

At least 20 people have died in Canada after being jolted by police Tasers since the stun-gun was introduced in 1999.


A report prepared last year by the Ontario Special Investigations Unit, which investigates deaths in police custody, cleared police of any wrongdoing in the Marreel case.

The SIU report labeled the cause of death as "acute cocaine poisoning."

The inquest will be heard by Dr. Jack Stanborough while Hamilton Crown Attorney Karen Shea will act as counsel for the coroner's office.

Eden said inquests are normally held "as close as possible" to where the incident occurred, "but we also take into account the availability of Crown counsel."

Norfolk OPP Insp. Zvonko Horvat said he will attend the inquest "to oversee the process and to show support for my officers."

An inquest, Horvat noted, "is not to find fault in any individual. It's to find solutions, if there are any solutions to be found."

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