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News Release

Charges Not Warranted in Toronto Police Shooting of a Man with a Knife

Case Number: 15-TFI-299

Mississauga, ON (23 September, 2016) ---
An incident in which a 31-year-old Toronto man was shot three times by Toronto Police and struck by a conducted energy weapon will not result in criminal charges, the Acting Director of the SIU has decided.

Seven investigators and two forensic investigators were assigned to this investigation.

The SIU interviewed the man, the subject officer, eight civilian witnesses, and three witness officers who were present at the time of the incident.  The subject officer also provided a copy of his duty notes.  

The investigation included a forensic examination of the scene as well as a review of the police communications tapes and a number of 911 calls.  
 
The SIU investigation found the following:
  • Sometime in the early afternoon of December 11, 2015, the man went to a Toronto-area hospital where he was an outpatient to distribute gifts to staff members.
  • At the hospital, staff members become concerned when they detected alcohol on the man’s breath and it appeared he would drive home.  Staff contacted police when the man left in his vehicle.
  • A short while later, staff at the hospital called the man at home to confirm he had arrived safely.  The staff called the police a second time after the man told them he was in possession of a knife and was upset that he had been reported to the police.
  • Toronto Police attempted to deploy a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (comprised of a mental health nurse and a specially trained police officer) but none was available to respond at that time.
  • Just before 3:30 p.m., the subject officer and two other officers arrived at the man’s home, in the Jane Street and Sheppard Avenue area.
  • After several knocks at the door, the man opened the interior door to the home and, through the screen door, warned the officers to leave or there would be trouble.  
  • The officers attempted to assure the man they were there to ensure his well-being.
  • Seconds later, the man walked out of the house holding a large knife in his right hand and pointed at the officers.  
  • The officers drew their firearms and began to step away while ordering the man to drop the knife.  
  • The man continued to move forward and was within two to three metres of one of the officers when another of the officers shot the man three times. 
  • The man remained on his feet with the knife still in hand and was moving away from the officers toward the rear of the home’s driveway.  
  • The officers continued to demand that the man drop the knife.  A sergeant arrived and discharged his conducted energy weapon; the man dropped the knife and fell to the ground.  
  • The man was given first aid until paramedics arrived.  He was then rushed to hospital and underwent surgery.      

Acting Director Joseph 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 were captured by the provision.  

“The man emerged from the doorway brandishing in the officers’ direction a knife with a serrated blade measuring some 17 centimetres in length.  He advanced upon the officers as they screamed at him to stop and drop the knife.  There was little if any time for the officers to retreat from the confrontation.  Fearing an imminent knife attack, one of the witness officers made the decision to shoot the man as he neared to within a few metres and was about to do so when the subject officer, also concerned for the witness officer’s life and well-being, fired his weapon.  

“On this record, face to face with an individual armed with a knife and seemingly intent on using it, and with little time to react as the man moved upon the officers, I am satisfied that the subject officer was faced with a lethal threat and acted reasonably in seeking to protect himself and his partner when he shot the man at close range.  The officer also acted reasonably in my view when he ceased fire following the third shot.  The man’s forward advance had stopped and he was now moving away from the officers.  However, because the man was still standing and refusing to drop the knife, the sergeant was within his rights, in my view, when he moved in and fired his conducted energy weapon, effectively ending the standoff.  

“For the foregoing reasons, I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the force used against the complainant was legally justified and that there are therefore no grounds for proceeding with charges against any of the involved officers.”  

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. 

Lisez ce communiqué en français.

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