SIU Concludes Investigation into Shooting Death in Brampton Court House
Case Number: 14-OFD-077
Other News Releases Related to Case 14-OFD-077
Mississauga (10 October, 2014) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a Peel Regional Police (PRP) officer with a criminal offence in connection with the shooting death of 45-year-old Charnjit Singh Bassi on March 28, 2014.
The SIU assigned 19 investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, eight witness officers and 40 civilian witnesses were interviewed. The subject officer did not consent to an interview or provide a copy of his duty notes, as is his legal right. In addition, evidence was gathered from a forensic scene examination, an autopsy and ballistics analyses of several guns, spent cartridge cases and fired bullets.
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Friday, March 28, 2014:
- At approximately 11:00 a.m, Mr. Bassi arrived at the Court House wearing a tan/beige jacket, fedora-style hat, brown slacks, brown sweater and black shoes. Hidden in a holster beneath his jacket, under his left arm, was a 9mm pistol.
- He entered the building and attempted to make his way through the access line reserved for Court House staff and legal professionals. Unlike the adjacent access line intended for members of the public, the route Mr. Bassi had chosen would not include him having to walk through a metal detector, or to be individually searched by an officer with a wand device.
- The subject officer was manning the access line for Court House staff and legal professionals. It seems Mr. Bassi attempted to blend in undetected into this line with the flow of persons making their way into the Court House.
- The subject officer confronted Mr. Bassi and instructed him to join the other line where he would undergo the same security checks as other visitors to the Court House.
- Mr. Bassi baulked and instead reached in behind his left jacket panel with his right hand and pulled out his firearm. He pointed the gun at the subject officer and fired two rounds at point-blank range.
- One of the bullets struck the front of the officer’s torso, knocking him to the ground. The other shot missed its target and became lodged in the desk beside the officer.
- The gunfire created pandemonium, particularly in the area of the security check point near the entrance to the building which was busy with court staff and other persons with business at the Court House.
- Mr. Bassi made his way through the security check point and turned to his right, where he confronted one of the witness officers.
- This witness officer had been working with the subject officer at the front security area performing searches of persons entering the Court House with his metal detector wand.
- He saw and heard Mr. Bassi shoot his partner and took cover behind a nearby pillar, drawing his firearm in the process. The officer quickly found himself face to face with Mr. Bassi, who pointed his gun in the officer’s direction. There was an exchange of gunfire as the officer and Mr. Bassi discharged a single round each.
- At about the same time, the subject officer, who had managed to get back to his feet and drawn his firearm, steadied himself and fired his weapon three times at Mr. Bassi.
- The witness officer’s round struck Mr. Bassi’s right leg and exited through his left leg. Mr. Bassi’s shot missed the witness officer. The subject officer missed Mr. Bassi with one of his three discharges. Another of his shots entered the back of Mr. Bassi’s neck area and exited through the front of the left side of his face. The other bullet struck Mr. Bassi’s left back and lodged in the anterior abdominal wall. According to the pathologist at autopsy, it was this bullet that caused Mr. Bassi’s death.
- Mr. Bassi slumped to the floor and was quickly handcuffed by the witness officer. Other officers in the Court House began to converge on the scene and immediately rendered first aid to the subject officer and Mr. Bassi.
- The subject officer was taken to hospital and treated for his wounds. Mr. Bassi could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead at the Court House.
Director Loparco concluded, “Section 25(3) of the Criminal Code authorizes the use of lethal force by police officers in the execution of their duties where such force is reasonably necessary to one’s self-preservation or the protection of others from grievous bodily harm or death. Section 34 of the Code authorizes force used in self-defence or the defence of others where the force in question, including lethal force, is reasonably necessary in the circumstances. In the case of the force used against Mr. Bassi, I have no difficulty in concluding on the evidence that the shots fired by the subject and witness officer were legally justified pursuant to either section. The subject officer had just been shot by Mr. Bassi. He had every reason to believe that his life and the lives of those around him were endangered, and that he could not otherwise meet that danger than by shooting at Mr. Bassi. The same goes for the witness officer. He had just seen Mr. Bassi attempt to kill the subject officer and was the last line of defence before Mr. Bassi made it further into the Court House with a loaded firearm. Confronted by Mr. Bassi pointing a gun in his direction at close range, the witness officer’s decision to shoot Mr. Bassi was eminently justifiable.”
Director Loparco added, “Precisely why Mr. Bassi tried to enter the Court House armed with a loaded firearm is unclear, nor was this a focus of the SIU’s investigation. Be that as it may, it is clear that Mr. Bassi came prepared to use his firearm, whether against some intended target or other innocent parties. The subject and witness officers would not have it. It was their duty that day to ensure that any risk to the safety of the Court House and the people within it was checked at the door. Despite being shot in the torso and suffering a grievous wound, the subject officer was able maintain his composure, right himself and return gunfire before collapsing from his injuries. The witness officer, despite the shock of what he had just observed, did well to immediately find cover before Mr. Bassi could shoot him as well. He then quickly drew his firearm and was able to strike Mr. Bassi with his one and only shot as Mr. Bassi pointed the gun in his direction and fired.”
Director Loparco further observed, “In the midst of the turmoil that followed the shots fired by Mr. Bassi, there was plenty of bravery and quick-thinking on display from the regular citizenry. A court clerk ushering a presiding judge to safety, a lawyer forcing her client to the ground upon hearing the sound of gunfire and an accused person at the Court House rushing to be among the first to render first aid to the subject officer’s wounds once the shooting stopped, are just some of the stories of ordinary people and their extraordinary acts on this most unfortunate day.”
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