SIU Concludes Toronto Firearm Injuries Investigation
Case Number: 13-TFI-307
Other News Releases Related to Case 13-TFI-307
(16 December, 2014) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a Toronto Police Service officer with any criminal offence in regards to the shooting injuries sustained by an 18-year-old man in December 2013.
The SIU assigned nine investigators and four forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, 14 witness officers and 25 civilian witnesses were interviewed. Four subject officers were designated and of those, three were interviewed and provided copies of their notebook entries. The fourth subject officer declined to be interviewed or provide his notes, as is his legal right.
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place in the evening of Friday, December 13:
- The complainant boarded the subway at the Finch Subway Station in the possession of a black pellet gun. He was despondent and hoping to use the pellet gun to trigger a confrontation with the police that would result in his death.
- The subway carrying the complainant made its way south and came to a stop at the Queen Subway Station at approximately 7:48 p.m. The complainant was seated in the rear-most car of the subway at the north end of the platform.
- With the pellet gun in his right hand, the complainant stood up and ordered everybody off the subway. Commuters scrambled in a panic to leave the subway and the station.
- Within minutes, the first two subject officers arrived at the scene. They observed the complainant standing in the doorway of the last subway car. The officers were quickly joined by other officers further south along the subway in the areas of its open doorways.
- One of the subject officers repeatedly urged the complainant to drop his weapon and show his hands but the complainant would not comply.
- The complainant instead brought his gun up with his right hand and pointed it in a southerly direction towards the officers, and began to walk in a southerly direction down the subway. He was immediately met with police gunfire. Several officers indicated that they believed the complainant was shooting at them.
- The complainant was able to exit the subway onto the platform and then turned to walk toward one of the subject officers, with the gun pointed at the officer. More shots were fired at the complainant until he finally fell on the platform.
- All told, one subject officer fired 14 rounds, a second fired six rounds, a third fired six rounds and the fourth fired two rounds.
- The gunfire resulted in four gunshot wounds to the complainant: two to the left hand and two to the anterior torso.
- The subject officers’ handguns and magazines were submitted to the Centre of Forensic Sciences along with shell cases, bullet fragments and bullets, for analysis; however, it is unclear which bullet discharged from which gun caused which wound.
- None of the shots fired that day came from the complainant’s gun – a black, Crossman pellet gun with a strong resemblance to a semi-automatic pistol.
Director Loparco said, “I am satisfied on the evidence that each of the four subject officers was justified in discharging his firearm pursuant to section 34 of the Criminal Code. It became apparent in the aftermath of the incident that the complainant was actually armed with a pellet gun, and not a genuine firearm. However, that would not have been apparent at the time of the shooting. In fact, just the opposite was true. The subject officers who spoke to the SIU all indicated they honestly believed the gun was a real handgun. And that was the consensus of the civilian commuters who observed the gun in the complainant’s hands as they hurried out of the subway. While the officers may have been mistaken in the nature of the weapon that the complainant had in his possession, it was a mistake that was reasonable in the circumstances. When the complainant pointed what the officers believed was a real firearm in their direction, they were entitled to resort to lethal force to preserve themselves and those around them.”
The Director continued, “With respect to the number of shots fired by the police – 28 rounds in total – three things are important to bear in mind. First, these discharges were spread across four police officers, each of whom would have been reacting independently to his own assessment of the threat. Second, they believed that at least some of these shots were being fired by the complainant, a reasonable inference in my view given the circumstances and the dynamic manner in which they unfolded. That being so, it is reasonable to surmise that the officers would have perceived a continuing threat right up until the point that the complainant was felled and the gunfire went silent. Third, and related to the second point, it is clear that the complainant was not incapacitated by the initial volley of police gunfire and that the gunfire only ceased after he had fallen to the platform floor outside the subway. Believing themselves under attack by the complainant, the officers, in my view, were reasonably entitled to continue shooting until they had tangible evidence that the complainant was no longer a threat.”
The Director concluded, “In the final analysis, I am satisfied that the subject officers acted reasonably throughout their dealings with the complainant and that their conduct is entitled to the protection of section 34 of the Criminal Code. They pleaded with the complainant to drop his weapon and desist from his course, and only resorted to potentially lethal force when they had reason to believe their lives and the lives of others in the vicinity were in imminent peril.”
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.
Kaia Werbus, Kaia.Werbus@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342