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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation, Finds Three Peel Officers Justified in Firing Weapons

Case Number: 15-OFD-046

Mississauga (25 November, 2015) ---
There are no reasonable grounds for proceeding with criminal charges against any of the Peel Regional Police officers who discharged their firearms during an incident last March, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Tony Loparco, has found. 

The SIU assigned seven investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident.  The investigation included interviews with 18 civilian witnesses and nine police witnesses, as well as a video recording from one witness and forensic evidence gathered from the scene and the post-mortem.  The subject officers declined to be interviewed and declined to provide copies of their notes, as was their legal right.

The SIU investigation found the following:

  • Just after 4:00 p.m. on March 20, 2015, a resident of the townhouse complex at 3070 Queen Frederica Drive in Mississauga called Peel Regional Police to report a death threat made by a neighbour.  According to the resident, a female neighbour had called her a “witch”, threatened her with death, and threw a knife at her.
  • At 10:00 p.m., Peel Regional Police officers attended the residence to investigate the complaint and viewed a video of the earlier incident.
  • Officers then attempted to arrest the female neighbour of the woman, and the neighbour’s 22-year-old son, having determined there were grounds to arrest both. Arriving at the door of the home, the officers were confronted by the son, who was in possession of a kitchen knife with a six inch blade.  
  • The man resisted arrest and a struggle ensued, with police and the man ending up on the ground as they tripped over metal piping that surrounded the yard.  Two officers were wounded with the knife during the scuffle.
  • As this was happening, the man’s mother came out of the house and struck one of the police officers on the back of the head with a metal pot.
  • In the moments after the officer was struck, the 22-year-old man was able to slip free and flee the scene.
  • Officers then restrained the woman.
  • At this point, the 22-year-old man returned – knife in his right hand – and screamed at the officers to release his mother.
  • Officers drew their firearms and ordered the man to stop.  When he did not stop, three officers fired their weapons.     

A total of 19 bullets were fired in quick succession.  The man was struck 11 times.  The pathologist confirmed multiple gunshot wounds as the cause of his death. 

Director Loparco found that “as the man continued to close the distance between him and the officers, he clearly did so with an unlawful and dangerous purpose.  He was armed with a knife and clearly intending to do harm with it.  In fact, he had already used the knife to inflict injury on two officers, each of whom had been cut during the initial skirmish on the ground.  

“There was no real opportunity for retreat by the officers; by the time the man had re-appeared following his initial flight, he was on the officers and closing in on their position quickly.  One of the eyewitnesses with a view of the unfolding events indicates that one of the officers and the man were separated by about eight feet at the time of the shooting.

“In view of the totality of this evidence, I am satisfied that the officers’ apprehensions of the nature of the threat and their need to take action, when they did and as they did, were reasonable within the terms of section 34 of the Criminal Code and that the shooting, therefore, was legally justified.” 

Aside from the death, the investigation also established that the gunfire resulted in inadvertent wounds to nearby resident Suzan Zreik and another officer.  The former was in her kitchen when a bullet fired from one of the officer’s guns entered through the window and lodged in her back.  It has since been surgically removed.  As well, one officer suffered a serious bruise to the back, the result of being struck by one of the rounds fired by another officer.  (The officer was struck in the bullet-proof vest).  

Director Loparco also stated that “having determined that there are no grounds to charge one or more of the officers in connection with the man’s death because the shooting was legally justified under section 34 of the Criminal Code, I am bound to conclude that there are no grounds to charge the officers with criminal offences in relation to the injuries suffered by the two others who were wounded. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time through no criminal fault of anyone else.”

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. 

Jason Gennaro, jason.gennaro@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-641-1897 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 1897