SIU Concludes Investigation into Kitchener Firearm Death
Case Number: 15-OFD-059
Other News Releases Related to Case 15-OFD-059
Mississauga (20 October, 2015) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a Waterloo Regional Police Service officer with any criminal offence in relation to the death of 20-year-old Beau Baker in Kitchener in April of 2015.
The SIU assigned six investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, 21 civilian witnesses and nine witness officers were interviewed. The subject officer participated in an SIU interview and provided a copy of his duty notes.
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Thursday, April 2, 2015:
• In the evening hours, Mr. Baker made a number of alarming statements to a 911 operator; he said he had a knife and variously indicated an intention to kill himself and to hurt others, including police, paramedics and passersby. He warned that police officers would have to take the knife from him by force.
• The subject officer, aware of this exchange, was the first officer to arrive at the apartment building at 77 Brybeck Crescent. He parked his cruiser on the north side of the street and made his way on foot to the south sidewalk, positioning himself near the bottom of the steps rising to the walkway leading to the front entrance of the apartment building.
• Mr. Baker was standing on the landing next to the front entrance. When the officer asked what Mr. Baker was holding, Mr. Baker held up his right hand with the knife in it. The knife’s handle and blade measured about ten and eight centimetres in length, respectively. The subject officer drew his firearm and pointed it at Mr. Baker. He told Mr. Baker he was there to help, not hurt him, and ordered him to drop the knife and get down on the ground. He issued the same order on several occasions during the brief standoff. Mr. Baker failed to comply. Mr. Baker threatened to stab the officer and moved toward the officer while brandishing the knife. The subject officer backed up a step or two before firing his weapon seven times. The fatal shot entered Mr. Baker’s mid-abdomen and severed his aorta. Mr. Baker fell to his knees and then onto his back following the gunfire.
• The subject officer and another officer who had arrived during the confrontation rendered medical aid to Mr. Baker, applying pressure to stem the loss of blood and then CPR when it appeared Mr. Baker had lost vital signs. Paramedics quickly appeared and took over Mr. Baker’s care.
• Mr. Baker was taken from the scene to St. Mary’s Hospital and pronounced dead at 10:10 p.m.
Director Loparco said, “Pursuant to section 34 of the Criminal Code, a person who acts to defend themselves or another individual from attack is legally justified in so doing if the conduct in question was reasonable in the circumstances. The subject officer’s shooting of Mr. Baker, in my view, falls within the four corners of the provision. The officer had good cause to draw his gun when Mr. Baker produced a knife and threatened the officer with it. By his words and conduct, Mr. Baker had demonstrated a willingness to use the knife to inflict harm on the officer, and the officer was entitled in the circumstances to ready himself to meet that threat. Further, withdrawal was not an option; Mr. Baker had also threatened to hurt others and the officer had to be concerned that he might make good on those threats if given an opportunity. For similar reasons, the subject officer thought about waiting for the arrival of a conducted energy weapon, but quickly and wisely – in my view – ruled that out in favour of a prompt intervention on his part.
“It is clear on the evidence that the subject officer repeatedly asked Mr. Baker to drop the knife and get to the ground, and that Mr. Baker had ample opportunity to do so ahead of being shot. Importantly, the evidence also strongly supports the fact that Mr. Baker was shot after making a movement forward in the direction of the officer. For his part, the officer says Mr. Baker walked quickly in his direction and he was convinced he was about to be attacked when he discharged his firearm. The evidence indicates that the parties were some three to six metres apart at the time of the shooting. As for the number of shots fired, these rang out in quick succession – save perhaps for a brief pause after the first shot – and while Mr. Baker was still on his feet, leading me to conclude that the nature of the threat perceived by the officer did not materially change from shots one through seven.”
Director Loparco continued, “In the final analysis, the officer says he fired his weapon believing it was necessary to ward off a knife attack from Mr. Baker. This is confirmed by the civilian closest to the shooting, who told SIU investigators that Mr. Baker expressly told the subject officer that he was going to stab the constable in the face. While the subject officer seems to have understood he was dealing with a mentally ill individual, he would not have been aware of the full breadth and scope of Mr. Baker’s afflictions. In the circumstances that prevailed at the time, I am satisfied that the officer’s apprehensions and his course of conduct were reasonable under section 34 of the Code, and that there are therefore no grounds to believe he committed a criminal offence.”
The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must
- consider whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
- depending on the evidence, lay a criminal charge against the officer if appropriate or close the file without any charges being laid
- report the results of any investigations to the Attorney General.
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342