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News Release

SIU Concludes Death Investigation in Richmond Hill

Case Number: 12-OCD-033

Mississauga (8 February, 2012) --- The Acting Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Joseph Martino, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge four York Regional Police (YRP) officers with any criminal offence in regards to the death of 44-year-old Paul Black in January of 2012.

The SIU assigned four investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident.  Three of the subject officers declined to be interviewed by the SIU, and did not provide a copy of their duty notes, as is their legal right.  One of the subject officers did provide an interview, but declined to supply a copy of his notes.
In addition, five witness officers and three civilian witnesses were interviewed.

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Saturday, January 28:
• Shortly after 6:30 a.m., Mr. Black made two 911 calls to YRP requesting assistance.  Each time, before the nature of the trouble could be ascertained, the call was disconnected.  The police were able to trace the second call to an area in Richmond Hill.  Officers were dispatched. 
• The four subject officers eventually found Mr. Black in the playground area of a park located near the intersection of Palmer Avenue and Lennox Avenue.  He was sitting on a piece of playground equipment.  As they approached Mr. Black on foot, they noticed he was holding what appeared to be a firearm in his right hand.  The officers drew their firearms and ordered Mr. Black to drop his.  He refused.  They closed to about 40 feet of Mr. Black, all the while ordering him to drop the firearm.  Mr. Black repeatedly told the officers his gun was a fake.  Twice, he pointed the firearm to the right of his head.  On each of these occasions, the firearm made a clicking sound but did not discharge.  After each such occasion, Mr. Black lowered the firearm and appeared to be making adjustments to it.  Following the second such adjustment, Mr. Black again raised the firearm to his head and the firearm discharged. 
• The officers rushed toward Mr. Black and began to administer first aid.  Paramedics were summoned and transported Mr. Black to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, where he was pronounced deceased.

As these events were unfolding, unbeknown to the subject officers, the Toronto Police Service was seeking Mr. Black as a “person of interest” in relation to the death of Andrene Graham, whose body was discovered in an alley behind Chesley Avenue in Toronto on the evening of January 27. 

Acting Director Martino said, “There is no indication that any of the subject officers discharged their weapons.  In addition, notes subsequently found in Mr. Black’s residence indicated he was planning to take his own life.  In these circumstances, it is apparent that Mr. Black’s death was the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound for which the subject officers bear no responsibility.”

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, monica.hudon@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342