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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into March 17, 2013 Toronto Shooting Death

Case Number: 13-TCD-069

Mississauga (31 July, 2013) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge any officer with the Toronto Police Service with a criminal offence in relation to the death of 23-year-old Zoltan Hyacinth in March of 2013.

The SIU assigned four investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, seven witness officers and four civilian witnesses were interviewed. All three subject officers provided their notes and statements to the SIU.

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place before and on Sunday, March 17, 2013:
• In mid-March, Mr. Hyacinth and another individual became suspects in a robbery. Officers from 31 Division also had information that Mr. Hyacinth had a gun. This information was passed on to the Guns & Gangs Task Force (GGTF) whose members began surveillance on the two individuals. Officers also learned that Mr. Hyacinth had previous weapons-related charges. On March 16, as a result of their surveillance-related activities, Mr. Hyacinth was observed in hand-to-hand drug transactions. 
• On March 17, members of the GGTF had a meeting to discuss a plan to locate and arrest Mr. Hyacinth. As a result of further surveillance, Mr. Hyacinth was observed with another individual driving into a Burger King located near Wilson Avenue and Keele Street in a silver Pontiac Sunfire. A decision was made to take down the vehicle and arrest its two occupants.
• As Mr. Hyacinth drove up to the speaker box of the Burger King to place his order, unmarked vehicles from the GGTF boxed in his Sunfire from the front and back. Approximately 12 plainclothes GGTF officers approached the Sunfire to effect the arrests. Officers informed both of the car’s occupants they were police officers and that they were being arrested for robbery. Mr. Hyacinth’s passenger was quickly apprehended without incident and escorted away from the vehicle. Mr. Hyacinth refused to leave his vehicle and initially tried to place his foot on the gas pedal in an apparent attempt to push one of the police vehicles out of the way. The first subject officer began pulling Mr. Hyacinth’s legs out of the Sunfire while another officer was unbuckling Mr. Hyacinth’s seatbelt. The subject officer then started pulling Mr. Hyacinth’s left arm in an attempt to extricate him from the car. The struggle was intense enough that a nearby CCTV security video recording depicted the Sunfire shaking up and down for a protracted period. Eventually, this subject officer managed to pull Mr. Hyacinth out of the Sunfire. In the process of removing him, a second subject officer, who was near the driver’s door said he yelled out, “he’s got a gun.” By this point, the first subject officer was holding Mr. Hyacinth in a bear hug such that his back was pressed against the officer’s chest area. The officer dropped Mr. Hyacinth to his knees by using his body weight and then forced him to the ground. The officer momentarily released Mr. Hyacinth’s right hand because the hood of his winter coat was blocking his vision. He said he heard at least two shots fired in rapid succession, and then felt Mr. Hyacinth’s body go limp. The officer stood up and ordered other officers to handcuff Mr. Hyacinth. The officer can be seen on the security video being checked by another officer for possible firearm injuries.  
• As Mr. Hyacinth was being handcuffed, it was obvious that he had sustained at least one firearm wound to his head. A .40 calibre Ruger semi-automatic pistol was found near Mr. Hyacinth’s body. Two officers commenced CPR while paramedics were called to the scene. He was transported to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre where he was declared deceased. 

A subsequent post-mortem examination found the cause of death to be a contact gunshot wound to the head. The entrance wound was to the right side of the head above and behind the right ear. The bullet projectile exited the left side of the head above the left ear.

The SIU seized the Ruger pistol as well as cartridge cases and fired bullet and bullet fragments from the scene. The Ruger had the capacity to hold 11 bullets and had eight remaining in its clip. Three fired .40 calibre cartridge cases were found in the vicinity of the rear side driver’s door of the Sunfire. Subsequent testing by a firearms examiner from the Centre of Forensic Sciences determined that the seized Ruger fired those three cartridge cases. There was also a bullet projectile found lodged in the rear tire tread of the front driver’s tire. This projectile was determined to have been fired from the same Ruger pistol. The officers involved in this incident were armed with Glock handguns. 

Director Scott said, “When one pieces together the autopsy findings, the scene photographs, the Burger King CCTV security videotape, the Ruger pistol and bullet parts, along with the involved officers’ statements, the most likely scenario of events after Mr. Hyacinth was removed from his vehicle is the following.  As he was taken to the ground by one of the subject officers near the rear driver’s side door of the Pontiac Sunfire, Mr. Hyacinth brought a Ruger pistol - which had been secreted on his person - with his right hand up to the area of his head. At this point, Mr. Hyacinth’s body was either flat or almost flat on the ground and perpendicular to his car with his head very close to the rear driver’s door. The officer had his body weight on top of him. Mr. Hyacinth discharged the gun three times in quick succession as it was pointed in a northerly direction almost parallel to the ground, presumably in an attempt to shoot one or more officers involved in his arrest. Instead of effecting his purpose, he shot himself in the head, causing his own demise.”

Director Scott continued, “The involved officers had the lawful authority to arrest Mr. Hyacinth – they had credible information that he was involved in a recent robbery and drug transactions, and may have been in possession of a gun. When Mr. Hyacinth refused to leave his vehicle, they had the lawful authority to use reasonable force to forcibly remove him from the vehicle. Given my conclusion that Mr. Hyacinth shot himself in the head with his own weapon after he was wrestled to the ground, I am of the view that the police actions in this incident cannot attract any criminal liability – Mr. Hyacinth was the inadvertent author of his own misfortune.”  

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