Man Died After Sustaining Multiple Self-Inflicted Stab Wounds; SIU Closes File into Toronto Investigation
(14 April, 2020) ---
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Joseph Martino, has terminated an investigation into the death of a 40-year-old man last month in Toronto.
At about 8:40 a.m. on March 17, 2020, the man attended the Esso gas station at the northeast corner of Dundas Street East and Church Street. While there, he livestreamed Facebook posts in which he spoke of his political grievances. He then took the gas pump from a customer and doused himself in gasoline before lighting himself on fire. The police were notified of what had occurred and officers were dispatched to the scene.
The man fled east from the gas station and then north on Dalhousie Street with police in pursuit. He turned to travel east on Gould Street, then north on Mutual Street for a short distance before again heading east toward Jarvis Street. When the man entered the Rabba Fine Foods store at 256 Jarvis Street, he was no longer aflame. He went toward the delicatessen section of the store and repeatedly thrust a knife into his chest. There were no police officers present in the store at this time.
After approximately 35 seconds, the man exited the store and continued to stab himself in the chest with the knife. He was confronted by several officers, including two who had their conducted energy weapons (CEWs) out and aimed at him. The CEWs were discharged at total of four times. The man staggered north along the west sidewalk of Jarvis Street for a period before collapsing to the ground. First aid was performed by police, and then by firefighters. The man was taken to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
The pathologist at the man’s autopsy provided a preliminary cause of death as multiple stab wounds to the chest. The man had sustained 11 stab wounds to the chest. The pathologist was also of the opinion that the CEWs played no role in the cause of death.
Director Martino said, “Based on the SIU’s preliminary inquiries to date, which included a review of several video recordings which captured the pivotal moments before and during the man’s encounter with the police, I am satisfied there is patently nothing further to investigate as far as the potential criminal liability of any police officer is concerned in connection with the man’s death.
“On the aforementioned record, it is apparent at this time that the man is alone responsible for his self-inflicted and tragic death. More specifically, there is no question of any excessive force or want of care playing a role in the man’s death on the part of the police officers who tracked him from the gas station and confronted him outside the Rabba Fine Foods store on Jarvis Street. In the circumstances, the investigation is hereby discontinued, and the file is closed.”
The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials (police officers as well as special constables with the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service) that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must
- consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
- depending on the evidence, cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official where grounds exist for doing so, or close the file without any charges being laid
- publicly report the results of its investigations
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SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES