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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Death in East Gwillimbury

Case Number: 14-OCD-267

Mississauga (5 August, 2015) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a York Regional Police (YRP) officer with any criminal offence in relation to the death of a 39-year-old man on November 19, 2014.

The SIU assigned four investigators and one forensic investigator to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, one subject officer was designated and five witness officers were designated and interviewed. The subject officer declined to participate in an SIU interview or provide a copy of his duty notes, as is his legal right. The SIU also interviewed two civilian witnesses in relation to this case.  SIU investigators took measurements and photographs of the scene, and collected physical evidence relevant to the incident.

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place:

Late on November 19, 2014, the man drove to the end of Boag Rd. in East Gwillimbury.  He had with him one of his shotguns and a box of ammunition.  
Concerned that her husband might hurt himself, his wife contacted the police.  
The subject officer was among the officers who were dispatched in an effort to locate the man.  He found the man’s pickup truck on Boag Rd. and parked his police vehicle some distance behind it.  He was soon joined by other officers.  
In the meantime, another officer had made his way to the man’s home.  He was present as his wife spoke and exchanged text messages with the man.  Their last conversation ended at about 11:40 p.m.  
Shortly after that, officers around the pickup truck reported hearing a gunshot. 
Concerned about the presence of a firearm inside the vehicle, Emergency Response Unit (ERU) officers were tasked with approaching the pickup truck while other officers maintained positions at a distance.
At about 12:50 a.m. on November 20, 2014, officers confirmed the presence of a deceased male in the driver’s seat of the pickup truck.

The shotgun retrieved from inside the vehicle, one of several firearms the man owned legally, had been used by the man to take his own life.  

Director Loparco stated, “It is apparent that the officers on scene at the time of the shooting neither caused nor contributed to the man’s death in any fashion that could attract criminal liability.  While their presence may have precipitated the man’s final fateful decision, the officers can hardly be faulted for that.  Having received word of a distraught man in the possible possession of a firearm, they were duty bound to search for him to do what they could to ensure his safety as well as the public’s safety.  Thereafter, having located the man, they acted responsibly in blocking the road to prevent the vehicle’s departure from the scene and calling in the ERU.  Mere minutes passed from the moment of their arrival until the man took his own life, leaving the officers with little time and opportunity to do much by way of intervention, had that even been an option.  In the circumstances, there are clearly no reasonable grounds for proceeding with charges in this case.”

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