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News Release

No Charges Warranted in Case where Man Died after Being Shot Multiple Times

Case Number: 16-TFD-064

Mississauga, ON (5 June, 2017) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Tony Loparco, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against any Toronto Police Service officer in relation to the shooting death of a 30-year-old man in March of 2016.  

Eight investigators and three forensic investigators were assigned to this incident.

The SIU interviewed 10 civilian witnesses and nine witness officers. The duty notes of an additional 11 witness officers were reviewed. All three subject officers participated in SIU interviews and they each provided a copy of their duty notes.
 
The Unit’s investigation also included the review of communications between Ottawa Police Service (OPS) and Toronto Police Service (TPS), scene photographs and court documents. The SIU submitted firearm evidence – including cartridges, cartridge cases, a pellet pistol and police firearms – to the Centre of Forensic Sciences.  

The SIU investigation found the following:
  • On March 4, 2016, the OPS was investigating a man who had stolen a vehicle and had committed an armed bank robbery. Officers also had information that the man had stolen a pellet pistol earlier in the day, which closely resembled a real firearm. 
  • Through their investigation, the OPS believed the man was on his way to Toronto to meet a friend. In addition to attempting to contact the friend, an OPS detective notified TPS with information respecting the armed robbery. The notification included a description of the man and the fact that he was armed with a handgun. The information concerning the handgun was subject to the caveat that the man’s family reported that a pellet gun was missing from the home, and that it was unclear if that was the same weapon used in the robbery. 
  • A TPS sergeant managed to get in touch with the friend at approximately 9:30 p.m. She told the sergeant that she and the man would be meeting at a mall. Officers arrived at the mall and kept a lookout for the man and the stolen vehicle. At approximately 10 p.m., the friend informed police that she was in a taxi cab on the way to an address on Bayview Avenue.
  • Prior to the arrival of the taxi cab, several uniformed police officers made their way to Bayview Avenue in three police vehicles. Although it was night, the area was well-illuminated by street lamps. 
  • The taxi cab pulled into the driveway at 10:08 p.m. The friend exited the vehicle and walked to the front door of the residence. At this point, one of the officers pulled his cruiser behind the taxi cab, but maintained a distance of approximately 4.5 metres. Another officer stopped his cruiser behind the first cruiser. The third cruiser traveled farther south along Bayview Avenue where the officer activated his emergency roof lights and in-car camera system. 
  • The man exited the taxi cab and stood just outside the door facing the police cruisers. Two of the officers got out the police vehicle parked closest to the taxi cab and stood behind their respective doors. The man began shouting at the police officers “what are you going to do?” The man appeared to be holding a black handgun at his right side. SO #1 drew his firearm, and yelled “gun” in order to alert the other officers. This subject officer began repeatedly yelling “police, don’t move—drop the gun!” SO #2 similarly drew his own gun and began yelling police challenges. As the two subject officers were yelling at the man, two other officers – SO #3 and a witness officer – exited their police cruiser and stood behind the doors for cover. They drew their firearms after hearing the verbal exchange, and ran up the driveway to SO #1’s cruiser. As the man was illuminated by headlights from one of the police vehicles, SO #3 was able to confirm that the man was in fact holding what appeared to be a black handgun. The man’s response to the police challenges was to continually shout “what are you going to do?” He continued to hold the gun at his side. 
  • During the standoff between the man and the four police officers, the friend ran up to the man and attempted to wrestle the weapon out of his hand. He maintained his grip on the weapon and pushed her away. The officers yelled at the woman to get away from the man, amidst commands to “drop the gun”. The man then extended his right arm straight into the air and pointed the gun at SO #1. In response, SO #1, SO #2 and SO #3 discharged their firearms. 
  • The man sustained a total of eight gunshot wounds, which proved to be fatal. He was pronounced dead on March 5, 2016. 

A cataloguing of the physical evidence indicated SO #1 fired between twelve to thirteen rounds, SO #2 fired between eight to nine rounds and SO #3 fired a single shot at the man.

Director Loparco said, “There is no question that the three subject officers were acting in the course of their duty when they attended the address on Bayview Avenue in order to arrest the man. There were ample grounds to believe that he had committed an armed robbery earlier in the day. The only issue that I need to consider is whether the shooting was justified. There is no doubt in my mind that it was. 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. 

“As soon as the man exited the vehicle, he posed a threat to the officers present. He was in possession of a weapon that was visually indistinguishable from a firearm. He ignored repeated demands from the police to “drop the gun” which he continued to hold at his side. Only after he raised his weapon and pointed it at one of the officers did the three officers discharge their firearms. All three subject officers clearly indicated that they fired their guns in order to end the threat of serious bodily harm or death that the man’s actions represented. The conclusion of all three officers was that the man was going to try to kill SO #1. A fourth officer at the scene similarly indicated that he would have fired his own gun had one of the other officers not been in his line of fire. Their concerns were more than justified in the circumstances.”

Director Loparco continued, “It makes no difference that the man was in fact in possession of a CO2 pistol, and that the officers were aware of that possibility. They did not have the luxury of waiting to be fired upon to confirm the nature of the weapon in question. The CO2 pistol looked exactly like a real firearm, and the police were entitled to treat it as such. 

“The full body of evidence satisfies all three requirements of section 34(1) of the Criminal Code. There are no reasonable grounds to believe that any of the officers 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. 

Lisez ce communiqué en français.

Monica Hudon, monica.hudon@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342