SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-PFD-173
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Mandate of the SIU
Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation. If, after an investigation, there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence was committed, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the officer. Alternatively, in all cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director does not lay criminal charges but files a report with the Attorney General communicating the results of an investigation.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”)Pursuant to section 14 of FIPPA (i.e., law enforcement), certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Confidential investigative techniques and procedures used by law enforcement agencies; and
- Information whose release could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter or an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding.
- Subject Officer name(s);
- Witness Officer name(s);
- Civilian Witness name(s);
- Location information;
- Witness statements and evidence gathered in the course of the investigation provided to the SIU in confidence; and
- Other identifiers which are likely to reveal personal information about individuals involved in the investigation.
Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)
Other proceedings, processes, and investigationsInformation may have also been excluded from this report because its release could undermine the integrity of other proceedings involving the same incident, such as criminal proceedings, coroner’s inquests, other public proceedings and/or other law enforcement investigations.
“Serious injuries” shall include those that are likely to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim and are more than merely transient or trifling in nature and will include serious injury resulting from sexual assault. “Serious Injury” shall initially be presumed when the victim is admitted to hospital, suffers a fracture to a limb, rib or vertebrae or to the skull, suffers burns to a major portion of the body or loses any portion of the body or suffers loss of vision or hearing, or alleges sexual assault. Where a prolonged delay is likely before the seriousness of the injury can be assessed, the Unit should be notified so that it can monitor the situation and decide on the extent of its involvement.
This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into the death of Mr. Leslie Hegedus, a 73-year-old man, during an interaction with the police.
Notification of the SIUOn July 15, 2020, at 11:00 a.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reported the following.
On July 15, 2020, Mr. Hegedus attended a grocery store where he fought and assaulted staff members over wearing a mask. When he left the store, he got into his vehicle and started driving. As he was driving, he damaged other vehicles. An OPP officer initiated a pursuit but it was called off by the communications centre.
A query was conducted on the licence plate of the vehicle that Mr. Hegedus was driving, and it linked to a residence located on Indian Point Road, Haliburton Highland.
When police officers approached the residence, two shots were fired at them (no police officers were reported being struck).
The scene was contained, and a Critical Incident Command was set up. Tactical Response Unit (TRU) police officers eventually attended. Emergency Response Team (ERT) Subject Officer (SO) #2 and SO #1 discharged their firearms, striking Mr. Hegedus in the lower right extremity.
Mr. Hegedus was taken to the Haliburton Highland Health Services (HHHS) hospital via ambulance.
At 1:09 p.m., the OPP advised the SIU that Mr. Hegedus had been pronounced dead at 11:47 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 3
An SIU Forensic Investigator photographed the scene and measured it for forensic mapping purposes. The firearms and shell casings were retrieved. The trees in the search areas were examined and photographed for ballistic trajectory analysis. A metal detector was used to conduct a grid search in the area.
The area was canvassed for witnesses and closed-circuit television cameras.
The SIU Affected Persons Coordinator was engaged.
Leslie Hegedus 73-year-old male, deceased
Civilian Witnesses (CW)
CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed between July 15, 2020 and August 10, 2020.
Witness Officers (WO)
WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary
WO #1, WO #2, WO #3 and WO #4 were interviewed on July 17, 2020.
SO #1 Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
SO #2 Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
The subject officers were interviewed on July 23, 2020.
The SceneThe scene was located in and around Mr. Hegedus’ residence on Indian Point Road, Dysart, near Haliburton. It extended north from this address approximately 150 to 200 metres along the road to an area including part of the east side of the roadway and an area inside the bush line approximately 20 metres from the roadway edge.
Prior to formal examination and search of the scene, it was divided into four separate areas to assist in the mapping:
Area A, the most northerly location, consisted of a collection of silver rifle cartridge cases which were on the east side of the roadway and along the bank of the ditch that paralleled the road.
Area B was southeast of area A, and was within the bush line on the east side of the road. It was four metres inside the bush line and 14 metres from the road surface. Located in this area was a rifle, pistol, clothing items and medical debris.
Area C was south of area A. It consisted of a collection of silver rifle cartridges cases which were on the east side of the roadway and along the bank of the ditch that paralleled the road.
Area D was within a small clearing on the south side of the driveway and consisted of two brass-coloured rifle cartridge cases.
The driveway at the Indian Point Road property travelled from the roadway to the residence and other outbuildings on the property. There was a gate at the driveway entrance that was locked. There was a police vehicle, a Dodge Charger, parked near the entrance orientated west.
The residence was not visible from the roadway. There were other outbuildings along the driveway that were also not visible from the roadway. The front door of the residence showed no signs of being breached but the door to the garage was open and the doorway leading from the garage to the interior of the residence appeared to be breached.
The outbuildings had their entrances breached showing damage.
There was a small clearing in the bush area along the driveway approximately 20 metres from the roadway and to the south. In this clearing two cartridge cases were in the weeds.
From the driveway entrance and travelling north along Indian Point Road approximately .1 kilometres there was an area along the east roadway edge and into the ditch where there were several cartridge cases.
There was another area east off the roadway towards the bush line that was approximately 15 metres from the roadway up a sharp incline consisting of rock and soil.
Exhibit 1 – “Ruger” Mini 14 .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle was found lying with the breech closed and the magazine removed. Cartridges were noted inside the magazine. The safety was disengaged.
Exhibit 2 – “Browning” .380 auto semi-automatic pistol was found approximately three metres from the rifle with the breech closed and two magazines close by. Cartridges were noted in both magazines.
Exhibit 3 – a knapsack was found in the northeast corner of the clearing. A preliminary examination of the contents revealed several boxes of ammunition consisting of .223 caliber and .380 auto caliber.
Exhibit 4 – a camouflaged coat was lying next to the knapsack. It showed signs of the Emergency Medical Services intervention, meaning that it had been cut open. Several rounds of loose ammunition were inside various pockets. In clear view amongst the weeds a single cartridge case was also found.
Figure 1 – Ruger Mini 14 .223 caliber
Figure 2 – Browning .380 auto semi-automatic pistol
Figure 3 – SO #2’s C8 rifle
Figure 4 – SO #1’s C8 rifle
Centre of Forensic Sciences (CFS) Submissions and Results
The 32 spent cartridge cases recovered at the scene by the SIU, and the involved firearms, were submitted to the CFS for examination. By way of report dated December 7, 2020, the CFS concluded that:
• Six cases were fired from Mr. Hegedus’ Ruger .223 semi-automatic rifle;
• Seventeen cases were fired from SO #2’s C8 rifle; and
• Nine cases were fired from SO #1’s C8 rifle.
Summary of the OPP Drone FootageThe drone flew up and over the property on Indian Point Road by the driveway, from the road onto the property and out towards the road.
The drone flew down the basement steps into the basement. There were numerous boxes stacked on top of each other throughout the basement on the ground and on shelves. The drone came back to the steps and flew up to the main floor.
Police Communications Recordings
Summary of Communication RecordingsA 911 call was received from a woman reporting an incident at the Valu-mart. A man had beaten up a staff member and was driving his black car; the licence plate was provided. No ambulance was required and no weapon was used - just fists. The man’s car was smashed up from hitting the building and some grocery carts. He had hit two people in the store. The man was upset with an employee who had asked him to put on a mask.
At 8:19 a.m., a man reported a driver had tried to run down people in the parking lot driving a black European car and left going north on Highway 35. The driver looked of sound mind and was mad about a mask. The vehicle was registered to Mr. Hegedus at an address on Indian Point Road.
At 9:13 a.m., a sergeant of the OPP Communications Centre made several phone calls for people to respond to the incident. The sergeant advised there was a pursuit, which he called off. The residence was bushy, with a windy road leading to it. There was a complaint of guns in 2011.
A dispatcher advised units proceeding to that address that there were some weapons complaints from 2011 involving the registered owner of the vehicle. Neighbours had reported that he was shooting off guns all night. Officers were advised to use caution.
A unit advised he was in front of the residence on Indian Point Road; he could not see up the laneway. Officers had done a quick check of the property, and there were fresh tire marks into the garage. The officers were now performing containment.
It was reported that shots had been fired (two shots could be heard on the recording). An officer was heard yelling to stay back. An officer advised he fired in the woods, and that he did not have a visual.
Communications reported that everyone was to back up away from the property.
It was reported that ERT was there, and that there were fresh tire tracks to the garage. The male had fired two shots in the woods; no person was injured. The officers were requesting ERT and TRU, and orders to put down a spike belt in case Mr. Hegedus decided to leave. It was noted that there were grounds to arrest for assault, and that the situation involved officer safety.
The sergeant made calls and learned Mr. Hegedus’ injuries were life-threatening.
At 11:45 a.m., Mr. Hegedus was at the hospital. The sergeant spoke to someone who advised Mr. Hegedus was pronounced deceased at 11:47 a.m. at the hospital.
Materials obtained from Police Service
Upon request the SIU obtained and reviewed the following materials and documents from the OPP:
- Notes-SO #2;
- Notes-WO #5;
- Notes-WO #4;
- Notes-WO #3;
- Notes-WO #1;
- Notes-WO #2;
- Notes-SO #1;
- Communication Recordings;
- OPP Scenes of Crime Officer Photos;
- OPP Drone Footage;
- Occurrence Details;
- OPP Evidence Property Collection Report – SO #2;
- OPP Evidence Property Collection Report – SO #1;
- OPP Occurrences involving Mr. Hegedus;
- Training Records; and
- Will State-SO #2.
Materials obtained from Other Sources
The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from non-police sources:
- Incident and Ambulance Call Reports;
- CFS Biology Report dated August 18, 2020;
- CFS Firearms Report dated December 7, 2020;
- Preliminary Autopsy Findings Report from Ontario Forensic Pathology Service dated July 17, 2020
- Post-mortem Report from Coroner’s Office dated October 13, 2020;
- Building Permit Application - Mr. Hegedus;
- Driver’s licence photo of Mr. Hegedus; and
- Photos of Mr. Hegedus from a civilian.
The material events in question are clear on the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with both subject officers, several witness police officers, and a number of civilians with information about Mr. Hegedus’ conduct in the moments prior to the shootout. At about 10:50 a.m. of July 15, 2020, Mr. Hegedus, attired in camouflage and hiding in thick bush north of his residence on Indian Point Road, suffered multiple gunshot wounds. The wounds were inflicted by SO #1 and/or SO #2, each discharging his C8 rifle repeatedly at Mr. Hegedus from a distance of about 20 metres. The officers were returning fire. Just before the first of the officers’ shots, Mr. Hegedus had fired in SO #1’s direction with a .223 caliber rifle.
The shooting was the culmination of a train of events that began shortly after 8:00 a.m. at the Valu-mart in Minden. Mr. Hegedus had entered the store without wearing a face covering. Upon being reminded by a store associate of the need to do so, an angry Mr. Hegedus indicated he would not do so and started pummeling the employee. A fellow associate came to assist her colleague and was, in turn, assaulted by Mr. Hegedus. She was ultimately able to force Mr. Hegedus out of the store. However, Mr. Hegedus’ rampage was not over. He entered his vehicle – a black Alfa Romeo – and drove at store employees gathered outside. Mr. Hegedus’ vehicle also struck the exterior of the store and several shopping carts before it travelled onto Highway 35 and proceeded northward. The police were called and advised of what had just transpired.
WO #4 was dispatched to the scene and observed Mr. Hegedus in his vehicle heading east on County Road 21. The officer pulled in behind the Alfa Romeo and activated his emergency lights, but Mr. Hegedus kept driving. At one point, with WO #4 having maneuvered his cruiser alongside the driver’s side of the Alfa Romeo, Mr. Hegedus veered sharply to his left, prompting the officer to brake hard to avoid a collision. The vehicles turned left onto York Street, and then left again to travel north on Maple Avenue, after which WO #4 was directed by a superior officer to terminate the pursuit. He did so, stopping by the side of the road until he was allowed to proceed again in the direction of Mr. Hegedus’ home address.
At about 9:00 a.m., followed closely by WO #3 and then WO #1, WO #4 arrived at the property on Indian Point Road – the address associated with the licence plate marker of Mr. Hegedus’ vehicle. The property consisted of a home and several outbuildings east of the roadway. The area around it was densely populated with trees and brush. Aware that Mr. Hegedus was a registered gun owner, and that there had been past noise complaints related to firearm discharges from the property, WO #3 and WO #4 put on their body-armour and equipped themselves with C8 rifles before venturing onto the address through a closed gate at the start of the lane leading to the house. The officers detected what appeared to be freshly-made tire tracks leading into a garage, but there was no sight of Mr. Hegedus. Returning back to Indian Point Road, WO #3 and WO #4 reported their findings to WO #1.
WO #1 had just decided to position WO #3 and WO #4 with their vehicles north and south of the property, respectively, to contain the area when Mr. Hegedus, from a position of concealment in the bush south of his driveway, fired his rifle twice at WO #1. The time was about 9:30 a.m. Neither round struck WO #1, who hurried for cover behind his cruiser. WO #1 broadcast that shots had been fired. After a period behind his cruiser, and with WO #4 returning to the area to provide cover, WO #1 ran north and made it to WO #3’s cruiser. From that position, the officer radioed for the deployment of tactical officers.
OPP ERT officers, SO #2 and SO #1, arrived at the OPP command centre in the area of Harburn and Indian Point Roads. Armed with C8 rifles, the officers made their way south on Indian Point Road and eventually came across WO #1 and WO #3. WO #1 briefed them on the gunfire they had received, noting that it seemed to come from Mr. Hegedus’ residence. SO #2 and SO #1 continued south.
Approximately 15 to 20 metres north of the address on Indian Point Road, SO #1 observed a silhouette in the bush east of the road on elevated ground. He trained his rifle in that direction and watched as the silhouette moved, convincing him that it was a person. SO #1 repeatedly yelled out at the person to show his hands and SO #2, running to a position south of the person, did the same. The person was Mr. Hegedus.
Mr. Hegedus fired his rifle in SO #1’s direction, prompting SO #1 and SO #2 to discharge their weapons at him multiple times. In the course of this exchange, it appears Mr. Hegedus fired further rounds from his rifle before he was incapacitated. In total, SO #1 and SO #2 fired nine and 19 rounds, respectively.
Following the gunfire, SO #1 made his way south to SO #2’s position, from which vantage point the officers could see and hear Mr. Hegedus lying behind a tree stump and groaning. The rifle lay partially across his lap. The officers yelled out to Mr. Hegedus to show his hands and radioed for an ambulance, which had staged north of the scene. After a period of non-response, SO #2, now joined by WO #5, a TRU member arriving at the scene, approached Mr. Hegedus and began to administer first aid to his gunshot wounds.
Paramedics arrived at the scene and took over Mr. Hegedus’ care. He was taken to hospital and pronounced deceased at about 11:47 a.m.
Mr. Hegedus’ rifle – a Ruger .223 semi-automatic rifle – was recovered at the scene, together with a magazine loaded with five rounds. The magazine was capable of holding ten rounds. Also recovered at the scene was a Browning .380 semi-automatic pistol with two associated magazines, and a knapsack that contained numerous rounds of .223 and .380 calibre ammunition.
Cause of DeathAt autopsy, Mr. Hegedus was found to have sustained three gunshot wounds: a perforating gunshot wound of the right back that exited the right abdomen; a penetrating gunshot wound of the anterior right forearm, which may have been a re-entry wound from the projectile that exited the perforating gunshot wound of the right back; and, a penetrating gunshot wound of the left back. The pathologist attributed Mr. Hegedus’ death to “[g]unshot wound of right back”.
Section 34, Criminal Code -- Defence of person - Use of threat of force
(a) They believe on reasonable grounds that force is being used against them or another person or that a threat of force is being made against them or another person;(b) The act that constitutes the offence is committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or the other person from that use or threat of force; and(c) The act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.
(a) the nature of the force or threat;(b) the extent to which the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force;(c) the person’s role in the incident;(d) whether any party to the incident used or threatened to use a weapon;(e) the size, age, gender and physical capabilities of the parties to the incident;(f) the nature, duration and history of any relationship between the parties to the incident, including any prior use or threat of force and the nature of that force or threat;(f.1) any history of interaction or communication between the parties to the incident;(g) the nature and proportionality of the person’s response to the use or threat of force; and(h) whether the act committed was in response to a use or threat of force that the person knew was lawful.
Analysis and Director's Decision
Pursuant to section 34 of the Criminal Code, the use of force that would otherwise constitute an offence is legally justified provided it was intended in the defence of oneself or another from a reasonably apprehended attacked, actual or threatened, and was itself reasonable. With respect to the reasonableness of the force, it is to be assessed against all the relevant circumstances, including with respect to such considerations as: the nature of the force or threat; the extent to which the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force; the person’s role in the incident; whether any party to the incident used or threatened to use a weapon; and, the nature and proportionality of the person’s response to the use or threat of force. In my view, the force used by SO #1 and SO #2 fell within the four corners of the justification set out in section 34.
At the outset, it is important to note that SO #1 and SO #2 were engaged in the lawful execution of their duties as they approached Mr. Hegedus’ property and then engaged him in gunfire. By that time, Mr. Hegedus had assaulted two employees of a Valu-mart, driven dangerously, including in the direction of persons, and fired twice at WO #1. He was clearly subject to arrest, and to arrest as quickly as possible given his acts of violence.
In their interviews with the SIU, SO #1 and SO #2 indicated that they fired their weapons in fear of their, and each other’s, lives. There is nothing in the record to cast doubt on those assertions. On the contrary, the circumstances were such as to lend credence to their evidence in this regard. SO #1 had just been fired upon by Mr. Hegedus at a range of about 20 metres or so. On this record, I am confident that the officers returned fire believing it to be necessary to protect themselves from death or grievous bodily harm.
I am further satisfied that the multiple rounds discharged by each officer at Mr. Hegedus – nine and 19 rounds by SO #1 and SO #2, respectively – amounted to reasonable force. There can be little doubt that Mr. Hegedus was intent on killing police officers, whose arrival at his address he would have known was imminent following his antics at the Valu-mart. Returning from the store, Mr. Hegedus had changed into a camouflaged jacket, armed himself with a rifle and handgun with an abundance of ammunition for both weapons, taken a position of concealment in and around his home, and fired twice already at WO #1, who was fortunate not to have been struck. Coming upon Mr. Hegedus in a wooded area north of his property and east of Indian Point Road, SO #1 and SO #2 ordered him repeatedly to show his hands. Mr. Hegedus chose not to do so, instead rising from a crouched position behind a tree stump and firing at SO #1. In that instant, the officers’ lives were in grave danger and they acted reasonably and proportionately, in my view, in resorting to lethal force of their own. Retreat or withdrawal were not realistic options in the moment. SO #1 was in a vulnerable position out in the roadway when Mr. Hegedus first fired his weapon; any delay incurred in seeking cover would potentially have placed his life at further risk. The same can be said with respect to SO #2, who had every reason to believe that defending his life and, more emphatically, SO #1’s life, was dependent on immediately neutralizing Mr. Hegedus. Finally, in the context of an individual who had intentionally made himself difficult to see, and evidence suggesting Mr. Hegedus fired up to three additional shots after the officers had returned fire following his first discharge, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the number of shots fired by the officers was excessive. In arriving at this conclusion, I am mindful of the fact that Mr. Hegedus was only struck by three (and possibly just two) rounds, and that the gunfire occurred with rapidity and ceased when it was clear that Mr. Hegedus was down and no longer a threat.
In the final analysis, while it remains unclear which of Mr. Hegedus’ gunshot wounds were caused by which officer, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either SO #1 or SO #2 acted other than lawfully throughout this incident. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.
Date: June 14, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
The signed English original report is authoritative, and any discrepancy between that report and the French and English online versions should be resolved in favour of the original English report.