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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation Into The Use Of Taser By A Hamilton Police Service Officer

Case Number: 08-OCI-061

TORONTO (2 June, 2008) --- The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that an officer of the Hamilton Police Service committed a criminal offence during his arrest of a distraught individual during a domestic dispute last month.

Mr. James Cornish, Director of the SIU, has concluded that "...in my view, the arrest of this man was lawful, the use of force was justified and that the force used was not unreasonable in the attempt to overcome the resistance being offered. "

On April 17, 2008 at 8:55 p.m., three officers responded to a disturbance call at an apartment on Queenston Road in Hamilton. A man, who initially denied them entry, shouted through the door that he had a gun and would shoot. He had also thrown objects from the fourth-floor balcony, including toilet paper that he had lit on fire.

Believing that a woman could be in the apartment and realizing that the man was a potential danger to himself, officers pushed their way through the door that had been barricaded by a couch and mattress, and entered the darkened apartment with flashlights. In the effort to subdue the man, one of the officers discharged his Taser weapon. Suddenly, the man caught on fire. Officers, surprised by the fire, acted quickly to extinguish the flames by pushing the man to the floor and patting out the flames. The man was treated in hospital for burns to his leg, thigh and stomach area.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the man had concealed a can of hair spray in the waistband of his trousers and had placed knives placed throughout the apartment in different locations. When the officer fired his Taser, it inadvertently struck the aerosol can thus, unintentionally, igniting the contents.

"These officers were attending a volatile situation where a distraught man was engaged in destructive and potentially dangerous behaviour. The man was uttering threats to the officers in an attempt to keep them from entering his apartment. They had ample justification to enter the man's apartment and, indeed, could well have been the subject of criticism if they did not do so."

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