No Reasonable Grounds to Charge Toronto Officers who Shot Woman Several Times
Case Number: 15-TFI-275
Other News Releases Related to Case 15-TFI-275
(21 September, 2016) ---
The Acting Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Joseph Martino, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against any Toronto Police Service officer in relation to the firearm injuries sustained by a 45-year-old woman in November of 2015.
Four investigators and three forensic investigators were assigned to this incident.
The SIU interviewed 10 civilian witnesses and two witness officers. Both subject officers participated in SIU interviews and each officer provided a copy of his duty notes.
The Unit’s investigation also included review of the police radio, 911 and computer-assisted communications, as well as an in-cruiser camera recording. The firearms deployed by the subject officers and the Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) deployed by another officer were collected by the SIU. The firearms and the woman’s clothing were sent to the Centre of Forensic Sciences for ballistic and distance analyses. Bullets recovered from the woman during surgery were also submitted to the CFS.
The SIU investigation found the following:
- On November 16, 2015, multiple individuals contacted 911 seeking help for a 45-year-old woman whose mental health appeared to be deteriorating. The woman herself contacted 911 seeking help and an ambulance.
- At approximately 10:15 p.m., two paramedics were the first to arrive at the home on Edmonton Drive. They parked their ambulance and approached the ground floor door which opened into a kitchen. Upon entering, they saw the woman, and her son who was crying and upset. The woman was holding a knife in her right hand - a meat cleaver with a blade approximately 17 centimetres long and seven centimetres wide. Without warning or provocation, she turned on the paramedics and ran at them, screaming and brandishing the knife over her head. The paramedics retreated onto the driveway and were able to get away. The woman returned to her home.
- The two subject officers arrived in the area. They knew the woman was mentally unstable, and had been reported depressed and suicidal, and they were aware of the threat made against her son and the knife attack against the paramedics. The officers stopped their cruiser some distance south of the home and proceeded on foot, their firearms drawn. They cautiously entered the ground floor apartment through the front door. The officers took up a position side by side and shoulder to shoulder several steps inside the kitchen and pointed their firearms at the woman. She was holding a knife in her right hand and seemingly unaware of their presence. Also in the kitchen was the woman’s son, upset and crying. The woman went about her business and made her way to the kitchen sink where she poured herself a glass of water, all the while ignoring the officers’ repeated commands that she drop the knife. The standoff continued for about a minute. Suddenly, the woman raised the knife, turned toward the officers and rushed at them. Unknown to the subject officers at the time, another officer who had a CEW had positioned himself behind the subject officers. He deployed his weapon around the same time as the officers fired their guns. The two subject officers each discharged their weapons three times in her direction, resulting in gunshot injuries to her abdomen, pelvis and right arm.
- The woman was quickly handcuffed and paramedics began to administer first aid.
- The young boy did not witness the shooting. He had left the house through another exit during the standoff and was outside at the time.
Acting Director Martino said, “Section 34 of the Criminal Code prescribes the law of self-defence in Canada. It provides that a person who acts to defend himself or herself from force or the threat of force is not guilty of an offence so long as the impugned conduct was reasonable in the circumstances. The evidence, in my view, reasonably establishes that the shooting and the conducted energy weapon discharge fell within the four corners of the provision. While the woman was clearly not of sound mind at the time on the day in question, she clearly represented a real and present danger to herself and others. To her credit, recognizing her own faltering capacities, she attempted to seek help for herself and protection for those around her when she called 911 and asked for an ambulance. Regrettably, by the time of the paramedics’ arrival, her mental condition had taken a turn for the worse and she attacked the very people who were there to help her. As the officers arrived on scene, they had every reason to be concerned for their safety and the well-being of the woman and her son. By that time, they knew she had charged at the paramedics with a knife. Knowing as well that the woman’s son was with his mother in the home, and that she had earlier threatened her son’s life, as well as her own, the officers were within their rights when they entered the kitchen and confronted her. Not more than a minute following their entry, during which time they repeatedly directed the woman to drop the knife, she rushed at the officers with the knife in hand from a distance no greater than three metres and was shot as she neared to within a couple of metres of the officers. Another officer also deployed his CEW just before the gunfire erupted. On this record, it is difficult to find fault with the conduct of the officers. There can be no doubt that the knife wielded by the woman was capable of inflicting grievous or deadly injuries. Confronted with a potentially lethal knife attack, and with only fractions of a second to react as the woman rushed in their direction with the knife in hand, I am satisfied that the officers legitimately believed their lives to be in imminent peril and acted reasonably to defend themselves when they discharged their weapons. For the foregoing reasons, the officers’ use of force was legally justified in my view and there are therefore 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.
Monica Hudon, email@example.com
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342