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News Release

SIU Concludes Hamilton Firearm Death Investigation

Case Number: 12-OFD-052

Mississauga (8 June, 2012) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a Hamilton Police Service (HPS) officer with a criminal offence in regards to the shooting death of 27-year-old Phonesay Chanthachack in February of 2012.

The SIU assigned seven investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident.  The subject officer consented to an interview with the SIU, and provided a copy of his duty notes.  In addition, seven witness officers and twelve civilian witnesses were interviewed.  There were two scenes associated with this investigation, the first being the driveway at 15 Albright Road, where the shots were fired, and the second scene being the collision at Albright Road and Quigley Road.  Both scenes, separated by approximately 100 metres, were examined for forensic evidence. 

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Monday, February 13:
• In the early afternoon of that day, the subject officer and his colleagues on the Break and Enter/Armed Robbery (BEAR) unit had a stolen van under surveillance as it remained parked in the parking lot of 15 Albright Road.  They had reason to suspect it was in the possession of Mr. Chanthachack and their intention was to arrest him before he could re-enter the vehicle. 
• Some 10 to 20 minutes later, just before 1:00 p.m., the team members were advised that the van was in motion.  Hearing this, the subject officer drove west on Albright Road and spotted Mr. Chanthachack’s vehicle about to enter the roadway from the driveway of the Albright Road parking lot.  In an effort to block the van’s movement, the officer pulled his minivan up against the front bumper of Mr. Chanthachack’s van.  By this time, another officer had stationed his unmarked vehicle directly behind the stolen van.  The officers thought that Mr. Chanthachack’s vehicle was now effectively boxed in and that Mr. Chanthachack would soon be taken into custody without further incident. Almost immediately, Mr. Chanthachack’s vehicle started reversing, pushing the vehicle stationed behind him backward.  At the same time, the subject officer, gun drawn, yelled at Mr. Chanthachack to show his hands and stop the vehicle.    
• As the stolen van moved toward him onto Albright Road, the officer discharged two rounds in quick succession at the driver. There is evidence that indicates the forward moving van made contact with the officer around the time of the first discharge. 
• The stolen van proceeded westbound and came to rest seconds later when it failed to negotiate a right turn onto Quigley Road and struck a utility pole.  
• The evidence establishes that the first shot struck Mr. Chanthachack’s right wrist.  The second shot, which caused Mr. Chanthachak’s death, was fired through the glass window of the van’s passenger side sliding door, and finally lodged in Mr. Chanthachack’s chest. 

Director Scott said, “I note that the subject officer was in the lawful discharge of his duty when he approached Mr. Chanthachack’s vehicle to arrest him; he had information to believe that Mr. Chanthachack was operating a stolen vehicle and was unlawfully at large due to the revocation of his bail surety. He was also the suspect in a number of break and enter incidents. 

“In my view, the subject officer’s use of lethal force causing the death of Mr. Chanthachack was legally justified on the basis that he had a reasonable belief that force was necessary to preserve himself from imminent death or grievous bodily harm.  As previously indicated, there is evidence supporting the subject officer’s statement that the forward moving van made contact with him around the time of the first discharge.  By his actions, Mr. Chanthachack made it clear that he was prepared to put others in imminent danger in an attempt to extract himself from the police block and flee from apprehension.  The subject officer was directly in his path and was impacted by the fleeing vehicle.”

Director Scott added, “In the heat of the moment, I am satisfied with respect to the first discharge that the officer honestly and reasonably believed his self-preservation to be dependent on stopping the continued movement of the van by disabling its driver, Mr. Chanthachack.    When one considers the subject officer’s position in relation to the van, the fact that he had just been in physical contact with it, the rapid succession of the shots fired and the inherent lags associated with reaction times, I am satisfied that the subject officer’s second discharge of his firearm was also reasonable in this dynamic and fluid situation.”

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