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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Police Shooting at Avondale Cemetery in Stratford

Case Number: 08-OFI-097

TORONTO (3 July, 2008) --- The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that an officer with the Stratford Police Service committed any criminal offence in his attempt to subdue an emotionally upset man in a local cemetery.

The SIU assigned five field investigators and three forensic investigators to this case.

On May 29, 2008 at approximately 3:30 a.m., officers responded to a call received by the local Crisis Hotline and, with the assistance of witnesses, located the 46-year-old man near the grave of a relative. When officers found the man, they noted that he had a large cut on his left arm and was holding a blood-stained knife with a 10-inch blade.

The officers attempted to negotiate with him, but used a Taser as a less-lethal alternative force option when he ignored a warning to drop the knife. The Taser, however, was not effective as the man appeared to use his knife to disable the probes. The officers involved retreated; one of them reloaded his Taser and fired a second time but, again, without success as the man's movements prevented contact.

SIU Director, James Cornish, concluded: "When the man did not stop advancing on the subject officer and refused repeated requests to drop the knife, the officer backed up and fired one shot from his service pistol striking the man's left leg. The man dropped the knife, allowing the officers to render first aid until emergency medical services arrived."

Mr. Cornish added: "The evidence reveals a scenario where the officers confronted a man in a state of depression and agitation, and they attempted to stop him from harming himself any further. The subject officer believed that shooting the man was necessary to protect himself and fellow officers from serious bodily harm or death. The officer did so only after attempting to use other methods to bring this confrontation to a peaceful and safe conclusion."

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. 

SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342