No Criminal Charges against Peel Officers in Shooting Incident
Case Number: 16-OFI-145
Other News Releases Related to Case 16-OFI-145
(15 March, 2017) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Tony Loparco, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against Peel Regional Police officers in relation to the events surrounding a shooting in June of 2016 in Brampton that resulted in a 24-year-old male suffering multiple gunshot injuries.
Six investigators and four forensic investigators were assigned to this incident.
The SIU’s investigation consisted of statements from the injured male and one of the two subject officers, the eyewitness accounts of various residents of the complex, 911 and police dispatch audio recordings, and forensic examinations of the scene and physical evidence, including the involved firearms, spent cartridge cases, bullets, bullet strikes and blood stains. The other subject officer chose not to provide a statement to the SIU, and neither consented to the release of their notes, as was their legal right.
The SIU investigation found the following:
- In the early morning hours of June 8, 2016, police received a call reporting a firearm discharge and an assault at the Newhaven Manor housing complex near Highway 410 and Williams Parkway. Police were also given the description of a man alleged to be involved in the incident.
- The two subject officers made their way to the scene in separate cruisers. Within minutes, both officers arrived at the housing complex and parked in front of the walkway leading to the front entrance of one of the buildings.
- At the sight of the officers’ arrival, the man, who had been smoking outside, walked toward the front entrance of the building. He made it through the exterior door and was attempting to make it through the interior door when the officers caught up with him. A struggle ensued as the officers dragged the man outside onto the paved walkway in front of the exterior door. The man resisted strenuously as the officers tried to take him to the ground, ultimately withdrawing a Glock pistol from the front waistband of his pants. The man was able to run away from the officers toward the roadway, while pointing and firing his weapon in the direction of the officers. Both subject officers drew their firearms and returned fire.
- The shooting stopped as the man rounded another building across the roadway, disappearing from the officers’ line of sight. The man hid in the hopes of avoiding detection.
- The man was quickly found by a canine team accompanied by several Tactical Response Unit (TRU) officers. The canine handler asked the man to show his hands. When the man failed to do so, the canine handler released the dog and the dog bit the man. The dog released its hold at the handler’s command as the TRU officers moved in at gunpoint.
- As the man repeatedly refused to show his hands, one of the TRU officers deployed his conducted energy weapon (CEW). After the CEW was deployed a second time, the man was finally handcuffed.
- The man had sustained a total of nine gunshot wounds. He was transported to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre where he underwent emergency surgery.
- Neither of the two subject officers involved in the shooting was injured, though it appears one of them aggravated a pre-existing wound during the scuffle with the man that preceded the shooting.
The Glock handgun used by the man was located and collected by the SIU in the same backyard where the man was arrested. That the gun belonged to the man and that he discharged it in the course of these events is beyond dispute given the DNA evidence which linked the blood on the weapon with the man, and the accounts of several eyewitnesses in the area who observed the man shooting at the officers as he ran from them.
Director Loparco said, “Section 34 of the Criminal Code sets out the limits within which force used in the defence of oneself or another is legally justified. Under the provision, such force must be intended to repel a reasonably apprehended attack. In addition, the force in question must itself be reasonable in all the circumstances, having regard to such considerations as the nature of the threat, the extent to which the threat of violence was imminent, whether weapons were involved and the proportionality of the defensive force measured against the danger in question.
“On my review of the circumstances surrounding the shooting by the subject officers, there are no grounds to reasonably conclude that the force used by the officers fell outside of the latitude prescribed by the provision. The officers were present lawfully on the grounds of the Newhaven Manor complex and were within their rights in attempting to secure the man in custody. At minimum, given what they knew of the shooting and assault that had occurred moments prior to their arrival, the subject officers had reasonable grounds to suspect the man had committed criminal offences and was therefore subject to investigative detention. The man refused to cooperate and instead fought the officers leading to a struggle which found its way onto the paved front pathway of the building. The man managed to free himself from the officers while pulling the handgun from his front waistband, and was then able to get off a number of rounds in the direction of the officers before the officers were able to draw their own firearms and return fire. On this record, I am satisfied that the subject officers’ conduct amounted to reasonably necessary defensive force. Consider the scene. Approximately 10 metres separated the front door of the building from the area of the sidewalk in and around the front of one of the parked cruisers, by which point the evidence suggests the man had fired his first shot as he ran from the officers. Thereafter, the parties would have been separated by no more than 30 metres for the duration of the gunfire as the man ran along the exterior of the building across the roadway toward its southern corner, and likely significantly less than that given the evidence that the subject officers tracked the man’s movements down the road. Simply put, neither retreat nor cover was a realistic option given these confines and the speed with which events unfolded. Consider also the accounts of several eyewitnesses who believed the exchange of gunfire continued until the man turned the corner of the building across the roadway. While the forensic evidence tends to indicate that the man may have been out of bullets soon after he began to fire – with only four cartridge cases ejected from his firearm located at the scene and a fifth cartridge case found on his person – and evidence indicating that he fired early and often at the officers, the point is he gave every appearance of remaining a continuous and serious threat throughout his flight. In the final analysis, I am persuaded on the strength of the evidence that the officers were confronted with a clear and immediate danger to their very lives, and that they acted reasonably in meeting that threat by returning fire at the man.”
Director Loparco continued, “I now turn to the force used against the man in the backyard just before he was handcuffed, namely, a dog bite followed by two discharges from a CEW. Arguably, the force in question was also authorized under the section 34 regime. But even if the officers – the dog handler and the TRU officer who deployed the CEW – were not, strictly speaking, acting in defence of a reasonably apprehended assault from the man at the time, one of the preconditions to the application of the provision, I am satisfied that their actions were legally justified under section 25(1) of the Code. That provision entitles officers to use force that is reasonably necessary in the execution of their lawful duties. Faced with an individual who had just shot at officers, whom they had good reason to believe was still armed and dangerous, the officers cannot be faulted for approaching the man with extreme caution. More to the point, when the man failed to show his hands as repeatedly directed by the officers, the canine handler and the TRU officer acted reasonably in deploying the dog and CEW, respectively, to ensure he was sufficiently immobilized before moving in to take physical custody of their subject. As it turns out, it appears the man was not in possession of his handgun – although it was near him – at the time, nor was it equipped with any further ammunition. However, the officers could not have known that to be true at the time, and it would have been foolhardy for them to proceed on the assumption that the man was unarmed until they could assure themselves of that fact.”
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.
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Monica Hudon, firstname.lastname@example.org
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
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