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News Release

SIU Finishes Investigation; No Reason to Lay Charges in Shooting Death in Peterborough

Case Number: 15-OFD-061

Mississauga (8 December, 2015) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit has concluded the investigation into the shooting death of a 23-year-old man in April and found that the subject officer was legally justified in using lethal force.

The SIU had assigned six investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, 11 civilian witnesses and five witness officers were interviewed. The subject officer participated in an SIU interview and provided a copy of his duty notes. 

The SIU investigation also drew on evidence from police communications recordings and surveillance video from a home in the vicinity of the incident.   

Investigators found the following events took place on April 4, 2015:
  • The 23-year-old man was at the Tim Hortons at 157 George Street when he was involved in a confrontation with several young women who accosted the man because they believed the man had assaulted one of their friends a few nights earlier.
  • The man left the coffee shop and headed north on George Street.
  • The women followed the man, continuing their attempts to engage him, and two males, who were in a vehicle and who were friends with the women, became involved and began to follow the man.  
  • At one point, the man turned towards the women and brandished two large knives.
  • The 23-year-old man then walked west on Sherbrooke Street.
  • As the man approached Park Place North, one of the young women attempted to disarm him.  He threw her off and continued walking west away from the women. 
  • One of the young women called 911.
  • Not long after, the 23-year-old man tried to enter a Sherbrooke Street residence where he rented a room but he did not have a key. 
  • He then walked south through the backyards, ended up on Wolfe Street, and headed east. The two men in the car continued to follow the man along Wolfe Street. 
  • An officer who was parked at the east end of Wolfe Street (at Park Place) saw the two men in the car flashing their headlights and then recognized the man from a description given by the dispatcher and saw a knife in one of his hands.
  • The officer exited his cruiser, drew his firearm, and shouted at the man to drop the knife.
  • As the man passed the officer, the officer tried to pull the man to the ground.  The 23-year-old spun around and stabbed the officer in the thigh. The officer fired a single shot.

The pathologist determined the cause of death to be a single gunshot wound to the head.

SIU Director Tony Loparco said, “I am satisfied that the subject officer was justified in using lethal force.  He was acting in lawful execution of his duties when he approached the man.

“At that point, the officer had common law and Criminal Code duties to protect public safety by disarming the man and placing him under arrest.  The officer attempted to accomplish these tasks by verbally demanding that the man stop and drop the knife.  When that failed, the officer tried to take the man to the ground by grabbing him.  This had grave consequences for both men.

“According to the surveillance footage, no more than two seconds elapsed between when the man stabbed the officer and when the officer pulled the trigger. In that short period of time a number of things became clear. First, the man had used his knife at least twice against a person that night, including against a man he had to have known was a police officer.  Second, the man was still armed.  Third, as it appeared to the officer, he had only moments to react given that when he was stabbed he immediately felt blood pooling in his boot and believed he would lose consciousness soon, at which point he feared the man could continue his assault or move on to attack others in the neighbourhood.  In these circumstances, having been injured and left with no other viable option, I am satisfied that the shooting in question was reasonably necessary and therefore legally justified within the ambit of the protection set out in section 25(3) – justifying the use of lethal force in the execution of an officer’s duties – or section 34 of the Criminal Code – justifying the use of force in self-defence or the defence of others.
  
“One can speculate whether the night would have ended differently had the man not been followed when he left Tim Hortons. But ultimately, he set in motion a chain of events that led to his death.”

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