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News Release

SIU Concludes Maitland Firearms Death Investigation

Case Number: 12-PFD-123

Mississauga (20 June, 2012) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer with a criminal offence in relation to the shooting death of 33-year-old Matthew Roke in May of 2012.

The SIU assigned four investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident.  Two subject officers were designated.  One consented to an interview with the SIU and provided a copy of his duty notes, while the other declined a SIU request for an interview, as is his legal right.  In addition, five witness officers and twenty-one civilian witnesses were interviewed. 

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Wednesday, May 2:
• Shortly after midnight, Mr. Roke`s parents phoned 9-1-1 to report that their son had psychiatric issues and had just threatened to kill them with a knife.
• The dispatcher sent four OPP officers from the Prescott detachment to the family residence on Second Concession Road – two witness officers and both subject officers. They could not find Mr. Roke and left the area shortly before 6:00 a.m.
• After 6:00 a.m., Mr. Roke`s mother called 9-1-1 again and informed the dispatcher that her son was back at the front door. 
• The same four officers from earlier attended the residence.  When they arrived, Mr. Roke was sitting on the steps of his parents’ home with his hands in his pockets.  Because of their prior knowledge that he might have been armed, the officers drew their handguns.  One officer commanded Mr. Roke to show his hands and to put any knife he had in his possession on the ground.  Mr. Roke made it clear that he did not intend to comply.  He then stood up and displayed a metal knife at the officers. The officers continued to tell Mr. Roke to drop the knife.  One of the officers deployed his pepper spray, but it was ineffective.
• Mr. Roke turned and began to walk quickly westbound on Second Concession Road toward 15 County Road with the officers trailing behind him. They continued to implore him to drop his weapon.  When Mr. Roke was about 25 feet ahead of the officers, he turned around, and shouted words to the effect of “I hate f**** cops, just shoot me!”, and moved toward the officers.  He stopped when he was roughly 15-20 feet away from the officers, made some threatening remarks and then moved forward in an aggressive manner toward one of the subject officers.  Mr. Roke lunged at the officer, while making underhanded spearing motions with his knife.  Both subject officers discharged their firearms – one fired three times, and the other fired twice. 
• A total of five bullets were discharged.  One bullet struck Mr. Roke in the left thigh, a second in the right leg and two struck him in the right side of his chest, causing his death.

Director Scott said, “In my view, the fatal shooting of Mr. Roke by the two subject officers was justified in law.  They had received credible information that Mr. Roke was armed with a knife and had threatened his family members with serious bodily harm.  This information was confirmed by the viewing of the knife in his possession outside his parents’ residence. When confronted, Mr. Roke refused to drop his weapon.  After a short chase, instead of continuing to attempt to flee, Mr. Roke turned around and made it clear that he was prepared to be shot by the officers.  He approached them in an aggressive manner ignoring all pleas and commands to drop his weapon.  The prior deployment of pepper spray proved to be ineffective and none of the subject officers were equipped with a conducted energy weapon (CEW).” 

Director Scott continued, “This scenario in my view satisfies the Criminal Code provisions justifying the use of lethal force when a person reasonably believes that either they or someone else might suffer imminent death or grievous bodily harm.  While it is unclear which subject officer discharged the fatal shot, one of the officers reasonably feared for his life given the fact that he was the closest to Mr. Roke at the point of discharge.  The other officer could have reasonably feared for the safety of his partner, given his viewing of what was likely an imminent strike at the fellow officer.”

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