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Sault police lay manslaughter charge in fatal overdose

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In what is believed to be a first for the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service (SSMPS), officers have charged a 41-year-old man with manslaughter in connection with an almost year-long drug trafficking investigation.

The incident

On March 7, 2023, at about 10 p.m., members of the police service responded to an emergency call about an unresponsive person in the 200 block of Bruce Street.

“Upon arrival, officers attempted lifesaving procedures, but the victim was declared deceased by attending medical professionals,” said police in a news release Friday.

As a result of the investigation, police determined who had given the victim the fentanyl that caused his death.

“The victim consumed the fentanyl and overdosed in the 200 block of Bruce Street,” said police.

“Forensic analysis following the victim’s death determined the cause of death was fentanyl and ethanol intoxication.”

Police have not released the identity of the victim.

The arrest and charges

Police located the 41-year-old suspect on Feb. 8. He was arrested without incident and is charged with both manslaughter and drug trafficking.

In simplest terms, legal experts explained that manslaughter is a homicide committed without the intention to cause death.

Other police services across the country have charged drug traffickers with manslaughter in fatal overdose cases but it is rare.

“This is the first time we have had the evidence to lay a manslaughter charge in a drug investigation since I became chief of police in 2018,” said SSMPS Chief Hugh Stevenson, in the news release.

“This sends a strong message to the people profiting off poison in our community. In this case, a life was taken.”

Hugh said police with thoroughly investigate these criminal activities and will “use the fullest extent of the law to bring cases before the courts.”

“This criminality cannot continue,” he said.

The accused was held pending a bail hearing.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Earlier in the week, the Winnipeg Police Service made headlines by charging two parents with manslaughter after their one-year-old daughter died from fentanyl intoxication.

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