No Criminal Charges against Halton Officer in Relation to Toronto Shooting Incident
Case Number: 16-OFI-242
Other News Releases Related to Case 16-OFI-242
(9 May, 2017) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Tony Loparco, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against a Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) officer in relation to shooting injuries sustained by 51-year-old Grayson Delong in a September 2016 incident.
Eight investigators and three forensic investigators were assigned to this incident.
The SIU interviewed four witness officers with HRPS and 17 civilian witnesses. The notes of several Toronto Police Service officers who responded to the incident were reviewed. The subject officer participated in an SIU interview and provided a copy of his duty notes.
The Unit’s investigation also included the review of photographs, and area surveillance camera recordings and a video recording from witnesses. A bullet and a bullet fragment were collected from inside Mr. Delong’s vehicle and a trajectory examination of his vehicle was completed.
The SIU investigation found the following:
- On September 20, 2016, a HRPS team was tasked with monitoring Mr. Delong who was suspected of having committed several property offences in Burlington. Each member of the team was in plain clothes and each was operating an unmarked vehicle.
- The assignment began at a courthouse in Brampton where Mr. Delong was scheduled to make a 9 a.m. court appearance. Over the next several hours, HRPS officers followed Mr. Delong who eventually made his way to the downtown Toronto area.
- After parking on Admiral Road, Mr. Delong exited the vehicle wearing a reflective construction vest and a blonde wig. He then walked to a nearby park where he stayed for approximately one hour. Suspecting that Mr. Delong was preparing to commit a robbery, the team contacted other area police services about their suspicions.
- Shortly after 3 p.m., Mr. Delong drove to Bedford Road and parked his vehicle across the street from 23 Bedford Road.
- Minutes later, Mr. Delong exited his vehicle, looked southbound and then re-entered the car. The subject officer, directed to approach on foot in order to ascertain if Mr. Delong was still inside the vehicle, saw Mr. Delong slouched down in the rear passenger seat. He was still wearing the disguise. The subject officer walked into the stairwell of a nearby building which afforded him a view of Mr. Delong sitting in the vehicle.
- Suddenly, Mr. Delong exited the vehicle and ran up behind a male individual, who was standing at the rear of a vehicle in the driveway of the property at 23 Bedford Road. As the male slowly turned around, Mr. Delong discharged a semi-automatic pistol. The male suffered gunshot wounds and fell to the ground. Mr. Delong made his way back to his vehicle.
- Hearing gunshots, followed by shouting and screaming, the subject officer ran onto Bedford Road and saw Mr. Delong re-enter his vehicle while carrying a dark object in his right hand which he believed was a gun.
- The subject officer, now standing on the east sidewalk took out his gun and walked behind the vehicle Mr. Delong was in and pointed his pistol at it. The subject officer yelled, “Police, police, police!” Mr. Delong drove his vehicle out of the parking space in a jerky motion. The vehicle abruptly stopped, and the driver’s window shattered outward as Mr. Delong again discharged his firearm. Mr. Delong then began to slowly drive away along southbound Bedford Road.
- The subject officer aimed his gun at the rear of Mr. Delong’s vehicle and fired three times. After firing the third shot, he noticed Mr. Delong slump to the right, and his vehicle suddenly jerked and started rolling forward. One of the other members of the team drove his vehicle in front of Mr. Delong’s car, and the two vehicles slowly made contact and came to a stop.
- The members of the team approached Mr. Delong’s vehicle with their guns drawn. They found Mr. Delong lying across the right front passenger seat. He had been struck twice.
- First Aid was administered to Mr. Delong until paramedics arrived.
- When Mr. Delong’s left arm was pulled out from underneath him, a semi-automatic pistol was observed on the passenger seat of the vehicle.
Director Loparco said, “There is no question that the subject officer was acting in the course of his duties when he fired his gun at the fleeing Mr. Delong. The subject officer was in a proximate location to the male’s office at the time of the shooting. Mr. Delong acted suddenly, and the subject officer’s response was prompt. The time frame from when Mr. Delong approached the male to when he pulled his vehicle away was a mere 20 seconds.
“The question that I have to consider is whether or not the subject officer exceeded the ambits of justifiable force in the circumstances, the applicable section of the Criminal Code being section 25(4).
“Based on all of the forensic evidence and statements from numerous witnesses and the subject officer, all five requirements of section 25(4) are satisfied. First, the subject officer had reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Delong had just shot somebody and as such was arrestable. Second, a person who commits either aggravated assault or discharge firearm with intent can be arrested without a warrant. Third, Mr. Delong was clearly attempting to flee the scene as he drove away from 23 Bedford Road. Fourth, the subject officer indicated that he believed that Mr. Delong posed a threat to him, the other nearby officers and the public. Given that Mr. Delong appeared to have just shot somebody, and had fired additional shots from inside his vehicle, the subject officer’s conclusion was more than reasonable. Finally, there was no less violent mechanism that could have been used to affect the arrest. It is also noteworthy that the subject officer only fired three times, and held his fire after noticing that Mr. Delong’s vehicle abruptly jerked on the roadway. The subject officer’s actions in the circumstances were reasonable, responsive, measured and thoughtful.”
Director Loparco added, “Beyond the shooting, there was another potential avenue of criminal liability that I considered when reviewing this case. The facts of this case gave me pause when they were presented to me at an early stage. I was concerned with the fact that the HRPS team had been observing Mr. Delong for an extended period of time prior to the shooting. The concern was that their inactions, or omissions, could conceivably satisfy the requirements of criminal negligence causing bodily harm with respect to the male’s injuries. If the officers did not place Mr. Delong under arrest when they should have, then their actions could very well have been a marked and substantial departure from what a reasonable officer would have done in the same circumstances.
“However, a review of the HRPS team’s assignment and efforts leads me to the conclusion that there is no basis for reasonable grounds to believe that the offence of criminal negligence causing bodily harm was committed. While his activities certainly warranted suspicion, Mr. Delong was not arrestable for any offences prior to his approaching the male and discharging a firearm. After Mr. Delong donned his disguise, the team consulted with nearby police services to determine if Mr. Delong matched the descriptions of any wanted persons. He did not.”
Director Loparco concluded, “In the circumstances, the subject officer was legally justified in employing force intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm against a fleeing suspect. Consequently, there is no reason to believe that a criminal offence has been committed and 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.
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