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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Shooting Injuries Sustained by Man in Toronto

Case Number: 15-TFI-006

Mississauga (15 September, 2015) --- The Acting Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Joseph Martino, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a Toronto Police Service officer with any criminal offence in relation to the shooting injuries of a 34-year-old man in January of 2015.

The SIU assigned eight investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, eight civilian witnesses and nine witness officers were interviewed. The subject officer consented to an interview with the SIU and provided a copy of his duty notes. The SIU analyzed communications audio and forensically examined the scene and the involved weapons.

The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Wednesday, January 7, 2015:
• At 8:30 a.m., a clerk of a convenience store located at 591 Sherbourne Street called 911 to report that a man had just pointed a gun at him in an attempt to rob him of cigarettes. The clerk gave a description of the man.
• Shortly thereafter, an officer outside of the Rexall Pharma Plus at 345 Bloor Street East reported over the radio that a man matching the description was in the drugstore. He requested confirmation about whether the man had been wearing a baseball cap. The officer went to find a second entrance from inside the adjacent mall while another officer stood watch outside the front entrance.
• Meanwhile, the man approached the Pharma Plus pharmacist to inquire about obtaining medication. Around this time, the officer standing watch outside the front entrance entered the store. The man turned to look at the officer, pulled out what appeared to be a black, semi-automatic handgun and pointed it at him. The officer immediately took out his firearm, shouted ‘Gun!’, and ordered the man to drop the weapon.
• Five more officers entered the store. When one of the officers ordered the man to drop the weapon, the man turned and pointed the gun in the officer’s direction. Another officer pointed his weapon at the man and ordered him to put down the gun. The man responded by taking aim at the officer, walking towards him, and saying something to the effect of, ‘I’ll get you’. That officer retreated.
• Throughout the standoff the officers pleaded with the man to put the weapon down. At one point, the man did partially put the gun away, but this respite was short lived. The man took hold of the weapon again after a few moments and pointed it at one of the officers as he walked toward the officer. The officer retreated to behind a concrete column in the middle of an aisle. The subject officer shouted out, ‘It’s not worth it’, to which the man responded, ‘Yes, it is’. He then moved quickly forward with the gun at a 45 degree angle to the floor in the direction of the subject officer, who was positioned behind a display case. The subject officer discharged his firearm as the distance between them closed to about six metres. The first projectile appears to have struck the man in the leg. The man said, ‘Ouch’, but did not fall or drop the gun. The subject officer fired a second round, and this time the man fell to the ground.
• The man was arrested and immediately detained on a Form 3 under the Mental Health Act.

Acting Director Martino said, “It is clear that the man was incoherent and irrational at the time. He made indecipherable utterances during the standoff, and made obviously false claims to the SIU regarding his identity when interviewed from his hospital bed.”

Acting Director Martino continued, “Turning to the legal issue at hand, I am satisfied on the totality of the evidence that the subject officer was justified in discharging his firearm at the man. Section 34 of the Criminal Code provides the legal justification for the use of force in self-defence or defence of others. 

“The subject officer had every reason to fear for his personal safety and the safety of those around him, and I am satisfied that he was acting on that concern when he shot the man. It turns out that the man did not have an actual firearm; he had only a replica. But this was not apparent to the subject officer or, for that matter, anyone else who was present. The photographs of the replica confirm it resembled a semi-automatic handgun. Certainly, the subject officer believed he was confronted by an actual firearm and, given all of the evidence about the nature of the gun, I am satisfied that he believed that the man had a weapon with the capacity to kill in his hands. He was mistaken, but it was an honest and reasonable mistake.”

Acting Director Martino said, “All of the officers tried to calm the man and convince him to put the weapon down. The man’s angry refusal combined with his actions in walking quickly in the direction of officers with the gun in hand, plainly telegraphed malevolent intent. The subject officer knew the man was approaching a fellow officer’s location and he feared the man might turn on that officer. The subject officer did not fire until this point in the confrontation, and he fired only one bullet at first. The second shot came only after the man did not fall or drop the weapon, and thus continued to pose a significant risk. All of this demonstrates that the subject officer reasonably perceived that his life or the life of another officer was in jeopardy and that he acted in response to this threat.

” I note that all five witness officers inside the store concluded that the subject officer’s resort to lethal force was the only available response. Moreover, no viable alternative was open to the subject officer in the moment. Given how quickly the situation developed, none of the officers appear to have known exactly how many other police or civilians remained in the store. This means retreat was not an option. The subject officer did not have a conducted energy weapon on his person, and even if one had been present, I seriously doubt it would have been a safe option since the man had his hand on or near the trigger for all but one brief moment. The same can be said for the idea of tackling the man. For the foregoing reasons, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officer committed a criminal offence when he shot the man.”

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. 

Monica Hudon, monica.hudon@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342