SIU Concludes Death Investigation in Melancthon Township
Case Number: 14-PCD-269
Other News Releases Related to Case 14-PCD-269
(11 August, 2015) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer with any criminal offence in relation to the death of a 53-year-old man on November 21, 2014.
The SIU assigned five investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, one subject officer and four witness officers were designated and interviewed. The SIU also interviewed four civilian witnesses in relation to this case. SIU forensic investigators took measurements and photographs of the scene, collected physical evidence relevant to the incident and attended the post-mortem examination.
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place:
• At approximately 10:00 p.m. on November 20, 2014, police responded to an emergency assistance 911 call from a residence in Melancthon, near Shelburne. The caller said she had been accosted in her home by the man (her husband) who was holding a shotgun.
• At about 10:45 p.m., the woman, her child and the child’s friend managed to flee the residence.
• The first officers on scene took up positions around the home. Because of the presence of firearms inside the residence, the officers kept their distance and waited for the arrival of the OPP Tactics and Rescue Unit (TRU) and Emergency Response Team (ERT).
• The subject officer, who had training and experience as a Crisis Negotiator, was summoned to the scene, arriving shortly before 4:00 a.m. on November 21.
• From the Mobile Command Post stationed just south of the residence, the subject officer
began his attempts to reach the man in the house at approximately 7:15 a.m. It was not until about 7:45 a.m., however, that the man finally answered the phone.
• The subject officer assured the man that they were there to help him and urged the man to surrender peacefully.
• It became apparent that the man was intent on ending his own life. As the man spoke with the subject officer on the phone, officers in the vicinity of the home observed the man retrieve fuel containers from the garage and take them into the home.
• About 30 minutes into the standoff, smoke and then flames could be seen coming from the home. The subject officer heard the sound of a fire alarm over the phone as the man spoke to him on the phone for the last time.
• At about this time, several officers reported hearing gunfire from within the home. The man’s body would later be recovered in the rubble of the home with firearms nearby.
Director Loparco stated, “It is apparent that the officers on scene in and around the time of the shooting neither caused nor contributed to the man’s death. They were duty bound to attend the home in response to the 911 call given the information they had about the man’s threatening behaviour and, thereafter, acted reasonably in my view to contain the scene while waiting for tactical officers, as well as a negotiating team, to arrive. After all, their information was that the man had armed himself with a shotgun and had other firearms inside the house. With the last of the TRU team members and their assets in place, including an armoured rescue vehicle positioned on the driveway of the residence, the decision was made to attempt to contact the man. The subject officer made the call and was eventually able to reach the man. A review of the audio recordings of their communications reveals that the subject officer did what he could to dissuade the man from his destructive course, but that the man was not to be deterred. The evidence indicates that the man, about a half-hour after first speaking with the subject officer, shot himself to death, but not before setting fire to the home. In these circumstances, there are clearly no 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