No Criminal Charges against Officer Who Fatally Shot Man in Port Perry
Case Number: 16-OFD-014
Other News Releases Related to Case 16-OFD-014
(26 September, 2016) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Tony Loparco, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against a Durham Regional Police Service officer in relation to the firearm death of a 59-year-old man in January of 2016 in Port Perry.
Five investigators and three forensic investigators were assigned to this incident.
The SIU interviewed nine civilian witnesses and five witness officers. The subject officer participated in an SIU interview but did not provide a copy of his duty notes, as is his legal right.
The Unit’s investigation also included the review of communications recordings and post-mortem results. SIU forensic investigators documented the scene and collected evidence including a knife and firearm.
The SIU investigation found the following:
- On the evening of January 16, 2016, the subject officer responded to a 911 call concerning a man armed with a knife, who was trying to kill himself. While en route, he received further updates from the dispatcher indicating that the man had a female cornered in the house.
- As the officer arrived on scene and exited his vehicle, a young woman jumped out of a sedan parked nearby. She was frantic and grabbed onto the officer, screaming ‘He’s going to kill us – you have to get up there!’ He looked towards the house and could hear a female voice screaming from the porch.
- The officer walked up the driveway towards the house. As he did, he became aware of a man walking down the driveway towards him. There was approximately eight metres between them. The officer aimed his flashlight at the man. The man was armed with a butcher knife and he was pressing the blade of the knife against his own chest. The officer pulled out his firearm and pointed it at the man, and yelled ‘Police – don’t move, drop the knife’. The man said ‘no’. The officer then began retreating down the driveway and into the roadway by walking backwards. The man also made his way down the driveway. The officer continued to repeat his police challenge. The man started to advance on the officer, and then quickened his pace. As he did so, he pointed the knife towards the officer. He began repeating with increasing volume words to the effect of ‘shoot me’ and ‘kill me’. When the man was approximately 3-4.5 metres away, the officer fired his gun twice in rapid succession, striking him once. The man staggered a few feet, and then fell into a snow bank.
- Almost immediately afterwards, the subject officer applied pressure to the man’s chest until Emergency Medical Services arrived on scene.
- The man was pronounced dead at Lakeridge Health Port Perry.
Director Loparco said, “There is no question that the subject officer was acting in the course of his duty when he attended the scene. The only issue that I need to consider is whether the shooting was justified. The applicable provision of the Criminal Code is section 34(1) which provides the legal justification for the use of force in defence of self and defence of others.
“Upon seeing the subject officer, the evidence establishes that the man decided to advance upon him with a knife. During that period, the officer conducted himself with an aim to stalling the man until another officer arrived with a conducted energy weapon. However, his efforts were to no avail. He issued repeated police challenges directing the man to drop the knife and get on the ground. The man ignored him. The subject officer backed away from the man all the way to his police cruiser, but the man continued to advance on him. The man then increased his pace with the knife pointed towards the officer, yelling “shoot me” and “kill me”. The officer considered alternative use of force options to his firearm. However, he concluded that neither his baton nor his pepper spray would be appropriate in a situation involving close quarter combat with an individual wielding an edged weapon. Both his thought process and his conclusion in this regard cannot be faulted. Aside from wielding a butcher knife and displaying both hostility and combativeness, the man was physically imposing, weighing approximately 240 pounds.
“The officer was faced with a dangerous and dynamic situation that unfolded quickly over a mere 52 seconds. His fear for his own safety was both subjectively and objectively reasonable and his actions were directed towards self-preservation. His decision to fire his gun was reasonable in the circumstances, and he only did so when he had no other options.”
Director Loparco concluded, “In the final analysis, the totality of the evidence satisfies all requirements of section 34 of the Criminal Code. As a result, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the officer exceeded the ambit of justifiable force in the circumstances. Consequently, no charges will issue.”
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342