SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-PCD-091
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Mandate of the SIU
Under the SIU Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence was committed. If such grounds exist, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the official. Alternatively, in cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director cannot lay charges. Where no charges are laid, a report of the investigation is prepared and released publicly, except in the case of reports dealing with allegations of sexual assault, in which case the SIU Director may consult with the affected person and exercise a discretion to not publicly release the report having regard to the affected person’s privacy interests.
Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019Pursuant to section 34, certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- The name of, and any information identifying, a subject official, witness official, civilian witness or affected person.
- Information that may result in the identity of a person who reported that they were sexually assaulted being revealed in connection with the sexual assault.
- Information that, in the opinion of the SIU Director, could lead to a risk of serious harm to a person.
- Information that discloses investigative techniques or procedures.
- Information, the release of which is prohibited or restricted by law.
- Information in which a person’s privacy interest in not having the information published clearly outweighs the public interest in having the information published.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy ActPursuant to section 14 (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 that could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter or an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding.
Pursuant to section 21 (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- The names of persons, including civilian witnesses, and subject and witness officials;
- 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.
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004Pursuant to this legislation, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Other proceedings, processes, and investigationsInformation may also have 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.
A person sustains a “serious injury” for purposes of the SIU’s jurisdiction if they: sustain an injury as a result of which they are admitted to hospital; suffer a fracture to the skull, or to a limb, rib or vertebra; suffer burns to a significant proportion of their body; lose any portion of their body; or, as a result of an injury, experience a loss of vision or hearing.
In addition, a “serious injury” means any other injury sustained by a person that is likely to interfere with the person’s health or comfort and is not transient or trifling in nature.
This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into the death of a 54-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn March 20, 2021, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) contacted the SIU and notified it of the following information.
The Complainant had gone to his ex-girlfriend’s address on Wellington Street with a firearm. Civilian Witness (CW) #1 and her new boyfriend were in bed when the Complainant entered the residence and took hostages. At some point, the Complainant shot CW #1’s boyfriend and then released hostages and barricaded himself in the house. The OPP deployed two Tactics and Rescue Unit (TRU) teams, which eventually entered the residence and located the Complainant deceased.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 03/20/2021 at 12:30 p.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 03/20/2021 at 3:18 p.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 3
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):54-year-old male, deceased
[Note: An affected person (complainant) is an individual who was involved in some form of interaction with an official or officials, during the course of which the individual sustained serious injury, died, was reported to have been sexually assaulted, or was shot at by a firearm discharged by an official.]
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed on March 20, 2021.
Subject Official (SO)SO Interviewed, and notes received and reviewed
The subject official was interviewed on April 15, 2021.
[Note: A subject official is an official (whether a police officer, a special constable of the Niagara Parks Commission or a peace officer with the Legislative Protective Service) whose conduct appears, in the opinion of the SIU Director, to have been a cause of the incident under investigation.
Subject officials are invited, but cannot be legally compelled, to present themselves for an interview with the SIU and they do not have to submit their notes to the SIU pursuant to the SIU Act.]
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
WO #7 Interviewed
WO #8 Interviewed
WO #9 Notes reviewed, interview deemed not necessary
WO #10 Interviewed
WO #11 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed between March 29 and 31, 2021.
[Note: A witness official is an official (whether a police officer, a special constable of the Niagara Parks Commission or a peace officer with the Legislative Protective Service) who, in the opinion of the SIU Director, is involved in the incident under investigation but is not a subject official in relation to the incident.
Upon request by the SIU, witness officials are under a legal obligation pursuant to the SIU Act to submit to interviews with SIU investigators and answer all reasonable questions. The SIU is also entitled to a copy of their notes.]
The Scene The scene was examined by two SIU Forensic Investigators on March 20, 2021, starting at 3:50 p.m.
The scene consisted of a single-story detached residence located on Wellington Street in Orangeville. There were two damaged, broken basement windows. A spent shotgun cartridge was resting on the lawn near one of the parked vehicles.
The location where the Complainant’s body was located was a small basement bedroom at the rear of the residence. The room was very small and cluttered with a mattress and other items propped up against the south wall. The Complainant was fully clothed but wearing no socks or footwear on his feet. His upper body was resting on a pillow on the other propped up items against the south wall. The Complainant’s head was near the south side wall and his feet were towards the north side wall. His body was partially turned and resting on its left side. A shotgun was located, pointed upwards, in the same room near the right side of the body. Blood spatter was evident on the east wall near a light switch and on the ceiling slightly north of where the Complainant was lying. A hole was visible in the ceiling with blood splatter and body tissue around it. Brain matter was on the floor near the feet of the Complainant.
Physical Evidence A shotgun was obtained at the scene by an SIU Forensic Investigator and taken to the SIU office for analysis, which produced the following information:
o Lakefield Mossberg 400 G 12 Gauge;o A fingerprint impression was visible near the serial number;o Safety was in the forward position (off/fire position);o Forearm was in the forward position along the magazine tube;o Leather strap attached to the weapon – Duct tape affixed to the strap on the weapon’s stock/butt;o Blood and tissue visible on the barrel, muzzle, and breech areas; ando One spent shotgun cartridge was ejected from the breech/chamber:
- Super X brand Winchester 1 oz 2 ¾ / 70 mm;
- White-coloured cartridge jacket; and
- Primer area dented inwards.
Figure 1 – The Complainant’s Shotgun
Video/Audio/Photographic EvidenceThe SIU conducted a canvass of the surrounding homes and businesses in the area and interviewed civilian witnesses in relation to this incident. Numerous still photographs were obtained from civilian witnesses.
OPP Communications Summary ReportThe OPP communications were received for this incident and reviewed. The following is a summary.
• March 19, 2021 at 11:48 p.m., Mississauga Ambulance called the OPP communications centre and advised there was a male shot in the leg with a gun bleeding in a pickup truck in the middle of the road on Wellington Street. He had been assaulted at a residence on Wellington Street. The shooter was the Complainant.• At 11:58 p.m., CW #1 called the OPP saying her husband was present in the house, and that he had shot a guy in the leg. Her husband – the Complainant – had come in with a gun, and he wanted her to talk to the police. The call-taker asked if she was hurt. She said she was not hurt, and indicated that the Complainant was going to shoot himself. He had also said he would not hurt her. When asked, she said the Complainant had a shotgun. She noted that the Complainant had a history of mental illness and explained that he shot the man because they were in the middle of a separation. CW #1 said that the Complainant was in the living room playing music and wanted her to hang up. CW #1 was asked to put the phone down but not hang up, and she did so.• March 20, 2021 at 00:12 a.m., Cambridge Emergency Medical Services called the OPP and asked if they wanted them to be on standby for Orangeville, as they were in the area. OPP responded in the affirmative.• At 3:17 a.m., CW #1 called the OPP. She indicated that her husband had her in the house and had a gun. He had told her to contact the police and tell them not to do anything stupid. The call-taker confirmed her name and phone number, and told her to try to keep the line open. CW #1 advised her husband was beside her in the kitchen, and that she was in the living room.
Materials Obtained from Police Service Upon request, the SIU received the following materials and documents from the OPP between March 22, 2021 and May 10, 2021:
• Witness Interviews;• Communications Recordings;• Notes-WO #4;• Notes-WO #5;• Notes-the SO;• Notes-WO #2;• Notes-WO #8;• Notes-WO #6;• Notes-WO #9;• Notes-WO #10;• Notes-WO #3;• Notes-WO #11;• Notes-WO #1;• Notes-WO #7;• Computer-assisted Dispatch;• List of Involved Detachment Officers;• List of Specialty Unit Officers and Roles;• Updated List of Involved Detachment Officers;• Recordings, logbook entries and text screen shots from the OPP negotiators;• Occurrence Reports;• Use of Force Qualifications/Training Records;• Order – Tactical and Rescue Unit Hostage Rescue; and• Order – Use of Force.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU also received the following records from other sources:
• Preliminary Autopsy Findings report, dated March 22, 2021, from the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service; and• Video and images taken by civilian witnesses.
Between about 11:00 p.m. and 11:45 p.m. of March 19, 2021, the Complainant showed up at the home of his estranged spouse – CW #1 – on Wellington Street, Orangeville. He was armed with a shotgun. The Complainant was bitter and angry with their failed marriage, and the fact that CW #1’s boyfriend was staying in the home. The Complainant confronted CW #1’s boyfriend. The two fought and CW #1’s boyfriend was shot in the left leg by the Complainant. CW #1’s boyfriend escaped the residence and flagged down a passing motorist, who, in turn, contacted police.
At the home at the time was the Complainant’s son in his bedroom on the main floor. They were soon joined by CW #1, returning home from having driven her daughter to work. The Complainant refused to let either of them leave the residence and spent the next few hours berating CW #1 for the demise of their relationship.
CW #1 contacted police from the home at about 11:58 p.m. She said that her husband had a shotgun and had shot her boyfriend. The Complainant’s plan, according to CW #1, was to shoot himself but not harm her or their son.
Police officers, including two TRU teams, Emergency Response Team members, and uniformed officers, began to converge on the scene. The SO was dispatched to lead the police response as the critical incident commander. She arrived on scene at about 1:40 a.m. of March 20, 2021, and established a command post in the vicinity.
By about 2:30 a.m., police officers had established containment around the residence. Trained negotiators were engaged and made efforts to speak with the Complainant. When he refused to answer his phone, a loud hailer was used to attempt to get through to him.
The Complainant was becoming less and less receptive through the night to the officers’ overtures. He indicated that he had no intention of hurting his family, but that the police would not prevent him killing himself.
In consultation with the TRU leaders, the SO approved an immediate action plan. The plan called for TRU officers to force entry in the event of information suggesting an imminent danger to the lives of persons inside the home.
Shortly before 10:00 a.m., the SO directed that the TRU officers enter the residence to conduct a rescue operation. The police had just received a text message from CW #1 indicating that the Complainant had gone into the basement and she was with her son in his bedroom on the main floor.
Teams of TRU officers approached the front and side entrances of the residence. Finding the front door unlocked, officers entered onto the main floor, found CW #1 and her son in the bedroom, and helped them outside.
The officers by the side entrance rammed open the door and called out to the Complainant, with no response. Windows were broken and efforts were made to locate the Complainant.
At about 10:24 a.m., various officers around the home heard the sound of a muffled gunshot. A camera mounted on a pole was deployed through a broken window and captured an image of blood and a foot inside a rear basement room.
Officers entered the basement and quickly located the Complainant in a small bedroom along the southside of the house. The time was about 10:45 a.m. The Complainant was obviously deceased. Beside him was a shotgun.
Cause of DeathThe pathologist at autopsy was of the view that the Complainant’s death was attributable to an intra-oral shotgun wound.
Sections 219 and 220, Criminal Code - Criminal Negligence Causing Death
Analysis and Director's Decision
The offence that arises for consideration is criminal negligence causing death contrary to section 220 of the Criminal Code. The offence is reserved for conduct that demonstrates a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of others. It is not made out, inter alia, unless the neglect rises to a marked and substantial departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have observed in the circumstances. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was a want of care in the manner in which the police operation was conducted that caused or contributed to the Complainant’s death and was sufficiently egregious as to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.
The police were lawfully placed at all times throughout the standoff in and around the home. They were aware that the Complainant had just shot CW #1’s boyfriend, and was holed up in the residence in possession of a shotgun threatening to shoot himself with his estranged spouse and son as hostages. In the circumstances, the police were obliged to do what they could to prevent any further harm coming to anybody and safely arrest the Complainant.
In the course of the ten hours or so that unfolded from the moment police first arrived at the scene, there is nothing in the evidence to suggest that the SO or officers under her command comported themselves with anything less than due regard for the lives and safety of persons inside the home, including the Complainant. The officers wisely set up a perimeter outside the home as their first order of business in the interests of ensuring others in the vicinity were not placed in danger. Thereafter, it would appear that the necessary resources were quickly deployed to the scene, including trained negotiators and tactical officers. The negotiators were able to make contact with the Complainant, but he was not receptive to ending the standoff peacefully, instead making it clear that he intended to shoot himself. A plan was devised to force entry into the home in the event of an imminent threat materializing to the lives of anyone in the home. This would appear to have been an approach that reasonably balanced the relative risks to the health and safety of the officers and the persons inside the home given that the Complainant was in possession of a shotgun and was clearly prepared to use it. That moment arrived when CW #1 got word out to the police that the Complainant had moved to the basement and she was with her son in his bedroom. Officers entered the main floor of the home and rescued CW #1 and her son. The officers took a more circumspect approach with the Complainant, and reasonably so, in my view, given that CW #1 and her son were no longer in danger. Cameras were deployed into the basement to get a read on the Complainant’s location, and eventually found him in a basement bedroom shortly after a gunshot was heard. Officers quickly entered the bedroom after the gunshot, but the Complainant was already dead.
In the result, as I am satisfied for the foregoing reasons that the police operation under the SO’s command was professionally managed and executed, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the subject official transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.
Date: July 15, 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.