SIU Concludes Toronto Firearm Injury Investigation
Case Number: 13-TFI-244
Mississauga (9 May, 2014) --- The Acting Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Joseph Martino, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a Toronto Police Service (TPS) officer with a criminal offence in relation to the shooting injuries sustained by a 29-year-old man in October of 2013.
The SIU assigned five investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, three witness officers and seven civilian witnesses were interviewed, including the injured person. The subject officer consented to an interview with the SIU and provided a copy of his duty notes.
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Saturday, October 5:
- At approximately 7:31 a.m., the subject officer was dispatched to a theft in progress call on Epping Street in Etobicoke. Arriving shortly afterwards, the officer saw a man standing behind a van on the driveway of a residence. The van’s rear windows were broken.
- The subject officer commanded the man several times to come out from behind the van. The man said he had no intention of complying with the officer’s requests.
- The man picked up a garbage bin and, holding the bin in front of himself, approached the subject officer with it. The officer took out his baton and directed the man to drop the bin, which he did. The man then picked up a mallet from the ground. He continued to advance toward the officer.
- The officer drew his firearm and continued to retreat backward, all the while ordering the man to drop the “hammer”, to no avail. The man smashed the window of a second vehicle on the driveway before continuing to advance on the officer.
- The two were now on the sidewalk. The officer continued to order the man to drop the “hammer” and get on the ground. He refused. When the distance between the two was about a metre and a half to three metres, the officer discharged his firearm twice.
- The man suffered serious injuries (gunshot wounds to his groin, forearm and chest).
Acting Director Martino said, “The man had given every indication that he was primed for an attack on the officer with the mallet. He had used it only seconds before to smash out the rear window of a vehicle and was approaching the officer with menace, still armed with the mallet. For his part, the subject officer gave the complainant every opportunity to desist from his violent course. Regrettably, tactical communication and the threatened use of his baton proved ineffective as the complainant’s aggression only seemed to escalate. In the circumstances, the officer’s fear for his life seems a reasonable one to have harboured, as was his belief that lethal force was necessary to preserve himself. Consequently, whether pursuant to section 25(3) of the Criminal Code (prescribing the ambit of justifiable force by police officers in the discharge of their duty) or section 34 of the Code (setting out the defence of self-defence), I am satisfied the shooting in question was legally justified.”
The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials (police officers as well as special constables with the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service) that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must
- consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
- depending on the evidence, cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official where grounds exist for doing so, or close the file without any charges being laid
- publicly report the results of its investigations