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News Release

SIU Concludes Thunder Bay Shooting Investigation

Case Number: 05-OFD-169

TORONTO (19 December, 2005) --- James Cornish, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded that a Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS) officer was legally justified in the fatal shooting of Michael Kolisnyk.

Seven SIU investigators, including two forensic identification technicians, were sent to Thunder Bay to independently probe the circumstances of the shooting. As part of the investigation, one TBPS officer was identified as having discharged his firearm and designated a subject officer. In total, investigators interviewed 30 police and civilian witnesses and reviewed a number of police reports. Forensic identification technicians examined officers' firearms and uniforms and the damage to the police cruisers. A replica Baretta handgun retrieved from the scene was also examined.

The investigation determined that on October 29, 2005, at approximately 11:35 a.m., several TBPS officers responded to a call about a man seen driving a black car and brandishing a handgun. Officers located Mr. Kolisnyk driving a black SUV with a female passenger on Market Street. Officers in marked cruisers followed the SUV along Market Street and into the parking lot of Dawson Heights Plaza on Regina Avenue. Several officers saw Mr. Kolisnyk point the handgun at the passenger while driving.

In the parking lot, three police cruisers faced the SUV in an attempt to box it in. The SUV struck the front of a police cruiser, causing it to push into another police car. Officers jumped out of their cruisers, drew their guns and yelled at Mr. Kolisnyk to stop, show his hands and get out of the car. Mr. Kolisnyk raised the handgun and waved it around. At one point he pointed the gun at the police through the front windshield. The officers yelled at him to put down the gun and get out of the car but he did not.

The subject officer, who was standing in front of the car, fired three shots through the front windshield. The SUV went into reverse and struck another police cruiser. Officers assisted the subject officer as he smashed the driver's side window to take control of and remove Mr. Kolisynk from the car. The handgun was retrieved from between Mr. Kolisnyk's legs.

A post mortem examination concluded Mr. Kolisnyk died from a gunshot wound to the chest. The female passenger was uninjured but was taken to hospital as a precaution.

Having reviewed all the available evidence, Director Cornish determined Mr. Kolisnyk pointed the gun and failed to comply with the officers' repeated pleas to put the gun down and give up. He stated, "The officers dealing with this incident tried to resolve it without firing a shot however Mr. Kolisnyk's conduct left the officers with no other reasonable course of action. The gun he was brandishing was identical in appearance to the service pistols the officers had and there was absolutely no way of knowing that it was a pellet gun. In any event, Mr. Kolisnyk represented a real or reasonably perceived threat to the lives of the officers and the civilians (including his passenger), and the subject officer was justified in reacting to that threat with lethal force."

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. 

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