SIU Closes Investigation into Toronto Firearm Injury
Case Number: 11-TFI-163
Other News Releases Related to Case 11-TFI-163
Mississauga (16 November, 2011) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a Toronto Police Service (TPS) officer with a criminal offence in regards to the firearm injury sustained by 31-year-old Shane Maracle on August 7, 2011.
The SIU assigned six investigators and three forensic investigators to look into the circumstances surrounding this incident. The only subject officer designated was interviewed and did provide his duty notes. Five TPS officers were designated as witness officers, as were three officers with York Regional Police. Each was interviewed and/or provided his duty notes. One civilian witness was interviewed. As part of the investigation, the incident area was examined and photographed, and crash data retrieval information was collected for the relevant vehicles.
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place:
• Some time during the late hours of August 6th and the early morning hours of August 7th, Mr. Maracle and an associate entered a commercial building on Woodbine Avenue in Markham. As this took place, they were under surveillance by TPS officers who were engaged in an ongoing project focusing on unlawful entries into commercial premises. The subject officer was one member of the team; all had been previously briefed that one of the individuals may be armed with a firearm. The subject officer joined the stakeout team and took a position at the corner of Hwy 7 and Woodbine Avenue. He was driving an unmarked TPS Chevrolet Uplander and was alone in the vehicle.
• Mr. Maracle and the associate were seen carrying a box from the building, placing it in a silver coloured Grand Am and then leaving by traveling west on Hwy 7 and then southbound on Hwy 404. Mr. Maracle was the driver and his associate was in the front passenger seat.
• The team decided to attempt a high risk takedown of the vehicle at the Lawrence Avenue ramp, and tried to box the Grand Am at that location using their unmarked vehicles. They were unsuccessful. In the process of the attempted takedown, Mr. Maracle struck two of the surveillance vehicles and escaped.
• The subject officer continued to follow the Grand Am while it drove in a reckless manner, to the Pharmacy Avenue and Conroy Avenue area of Toronto. Mr. Maracle made a quick right hand turn on Conroy Avenue, slid off the roadway on the south side and struck a tree or some shrubs. As the subject officer approached the scene, the Grand Am was moving slowly forward. The subject officer drove the left corner of his unmarked police vehicle into the passenger door area of the Grand Am in an attempt to stop it from leaving the scene. The police car quickly came to rest parallel to the passenger side of the Grand Am such that neither the subject officer nor Mr. Maracle’s associate could open their car doors. Due to the relative size of the vehicles, the subject officer was in a higher position and was looking down into the Grand Am. Both the subject officer’s driver’s window and the window on the passenger side of the other vehicle were closed. The subject officer drew his police issued Glock pistol, and discharged one bullet in the direction of the driver. The projectile passed through the officer’s window, the Grand Am’s front passenger window, in front of the chest area of the passenger and then through Mr. Maracle’s left leg slightly above his knee.
Director Scott said, "The subject officer submitted himself to an SIU interview and provided a copy of his notes even though he had no legal obligation to do so. The officer said that after impact, both vehicles were immobilized. Because of his sight line, he could only see part of the right side of Mr. Maracle and his legs. He said he saw him slouch or lean forward and reach for something with his right hand. He retrieved what the officer thought was a hand gun, describing it as round, black and approximately five inches long. He felt his life was in danger, yelled, "police - don’t move", and discharged his firearm once at Mr. Maracle. He then saw Mr. Maracle drop the black object and say, "OK, you got us." The subject officer estimated the elapsed time between the time his vehicle stopped and the time he discharged his firearm as approximately five seconds. Mr. Maracle refused to provide a statement to the SIU. The associate in the passenger’s seat was interviewed, but he had no material information to provide in relation to the shooting."
Director Scott continued, "Upon examination of the Grand Am at the scene by the SIU, no firearm was found inside. However, on the passenger’s side armrest a police scanner was located. It could be described as black in colour, flat and rectangular, with a four inch antenna protruding from the top. There was also a black shiny cell phone found in the driver’s side foot well.
"Pursuant to ss. 34(2) of the Criminal Code, anyone is justified in using lethal force when unlawfully assaulted if he does so under a reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm and believes on reasonable grounds that he cannot otherwise preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm.
"The question here is whether the subject officer’s belief that he was in imminent danger of being shot by Mr. Maracle was a reasonable one even though no gun was found in the car. More precisely, did the subject officer have an honest and reasonable but ultimately mistaken belief in a set of circumstances that would justify his use of potentially lethal force? This is a difficult question. On the one hand, we know that the subject officer shot at the complainant when the latter did not in fact have a gun in his possession. On the other hand, the subject officer described a set of circumstances which, if believed, would arguably justify the use of lethal force. Further, due to the lack of a statement from the complainant or a witness to the material event, I have no information to rebut the recitation of events provided by the subject officer. Taking into consideration the prior knowledge received by the subject officer that one of the individuals may be armed, the fact that their flight in itself might suggest that they were prepared to use lethal force to escape, the incident as described by the officer, the location of both a cell phone and a police scanner that may have been mistakenly perceived by him as a hand gun, and the lack of any other information to the contrary, I am of the view that the subject officer’s action of discharging his firearm at the complainant was justified under the self-defence section of the Criminal Code. Accordingly, I cannot form reasonable grounds that he committed a criminal offence in these circumstances."
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.
Monica Hudon, firstname.lastname@example.org
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342