SIU Concludes Toronto Firearm Injuries Investigation
Case Number: 13-TFI-289
Other News Releases Related to Case 13-TFI-289
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge any officer with the Toronto Police Service (TPS) with a criminal offence in connection with the shooting injuries of a 34-year-old man in November of last year.
The SIU assigned six investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, five witness officers and 17 civilian witnesses were interviewed. The subject officer consented to an interview and provided the SIU with a copy of his notes.
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Saturday, November 30, 2013:
- At approximately 1:30 a.m., a resident of 177 Mutual Street contacted police to report that the man had taken his keys and was refusing to return them. The resident further indicated that the man was intoxicated and in possession of bear spray or a knife.
- Six officers, including the subject officer, responded to the call and attended the building. They were further advised that a fire alarm had been set off in the building, and that pepper spray and a fire extinguisher had been deployed. The man was in fact in the possession of a canister of pepper spray – a container of dog repellant spray to be specific.
- Following his interaction with the resident, the man wandered from floor to floor banging on the doors of a number of units. He yelled incoherently and discharged the pepper spray and a fire extinguisher at several residents who approached him.
- Two witness officers were the first to arrive at the scene. They made their way into the building and came to learn that the man was on the fourth floor.
- Due to the fire alarm the elevators were not operational so the officers made their way up using the stairwell.
- As the officers climbed the stairs, they began to feel the effects of the pepper spray in the air. One officer opened the stairwell door to the fourth floor and was met by a cloud of white smoke.
- Through the haze, he saw the man’s silhouette across the hallway and could see him holding an object, which he could not discern, in his right hand.
- The officer drew his firearm and repeatedly ordered the man to drop what he was holding and get to the ground. The man did not do so.
- In the meantime, the other officer returned to the ground floor and made his way back up to the fourth floor using another stairwell. As he approached the stairwell door, it suddenly opened and he was confronted by the man.
- The man raised his hand and sprayed the officer with a powdery discharge from about a metre away.
- The officer staggered backward onto the stairwell landing, where he was then struck by the fire extinguisher that the man was holding.
- The officer was knocked down some stairs, regained his balance and retreated to the third floor landing. The man remained on the fourth floor, pacing back and forth along its corridors, banging doors and yelling obscenities.
- The subject officer and another witness officer were making their way up the same stairwell at this time. They passed the witness officer, who appeared injured and disoriented, covered in white powder, and who told them that the man had just sprayed him and knocked him down the stairs.
- Armed with a C-8 rifle, the subject officer opened the door to the fourth floor and observed the man standing in a hallway corner at a distance of about two metres. He could hear another officer, from around the corner yelling at the man to drop what he was holding and get down on the floor.
- The subject officer issued the same command and pointed his rifle at the man.
- The man, advanced upon the subject officer while holding the fire extinguisher and spraying his canister of pepper spray in the officer’s direction. The officer discharged several rounds from his firearm, paused briefly, and then let off another series of shots.
- The man was struck several times including in the abdomen, left groin, left outer thigh and left palm.
- Seconds later, a senior officer came up from behind the subject officer and discharged his conducted energy weapon (CEW) at the man.
- With the man now on the floor, the officers from both stairwells converged upon him and handcuffed his arms behind his back. Paramedics arrived on the scene and transported the man to hospital.
Director Loparco concluded, “I am satisfied on the evidence that the subject officer was justified in shooting the man pursuant to section 34 of the Criminal Code and therefore there are no reasonable grounds to lay a charge in this case. The subject officer believed the man was about to assault him with the fire extinguisher (he knew that one officer had already been struck with the extinguisher by the man). He also had concerns about the man taking possession of his C-8 rifle should he manage to incapacitate the officer with the pepper spray and/or a physical attack with the fire extinguisher, and then use the weapon to further threaten those around him. Indeed, the circumstances surrounding the shooting lend credence to what the officer says he was thinking in the moment. They further establish that the officer’s concerns were reasonable. The man’s hostilities were apparent for several minutes following his exchange with the resident. He had been yelling incoherently and banging violently on residents’ doors. He had also assaulted several civilians with pepper spray and the fire extinguisher prior to the officers’ arrival. The subject officer’s belief that it was necessary to shoot the man was a reasonable one given the circumstances.
While the Sergeant’s conduct was not the focus of the SIU’s investigation, I am further satisfied that his CEW discharge was legally justified. He was the last of the first series of officers to make it to the scene. While he had not seen the shooting, he did hear it. When the shooting stopped, he ventured onto the fourth floor and took charge of the scene. He says he observed the man on the ground but that, unable to see his left hand and hearing other officers yelling, “Put it down, drop it”, he believed it was unsafe to approach him. The weight of the evidence indicates that the man was, in fact, standing at the time of the CEW discharge, it also suggests that he was still holding the fire extinguisher and pepper spray in his hands. In light of the events that had just unfolded, it seems that the Sergeant’s public safety concerns were well founded and that he also acted reasonably in discharging his CEW.”
The SIU is an independent civilian 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.
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342