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News Release

SIU Closes Investigation into Ottawa Firearm Injury

Case Number: 10-PFI-107

Mississauga (4 August, 2010) --- The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has reviewed the facts around the June 2010 firearm injury to 19-year-old Ryan Charles. Ian Scott, the Director of the SIU, has concluded there are no reasonable grounds to believe an Ottawa Police Service (OPS) officer committed a criminal offence in this case.

The SIU assigned five investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. Despite the Director having concerns about the note-writing protocol among at least some of the involved witness officers, he is satisfied that the June 22 incident unfolded in the following manner:

* Earlier that evening, Mr. Charles, who was on foot, was stopped by two officers. They had received information that he was yelling and shouting, and making threats that he was going to kill someone.
* One of the officers had a brief conversation with Mr. Charles, and she asked him to show his hands. He removed an object from one of his pockets which appeared to be a handgun. One of the officers interviewed said Mr. Charles pointed the handgun at the officer with whom he was speaking.
* The officer transmitted this information and at about the same time, Mr. Charles shouted some epithets at both officers and walked toward a nearby apartment building at 31 Van Lang Drive. The radio transmission attracted a number of other officers, including a member of the canine service and the tactical team, all of whom gathered outside the apartment building.
* In the meantime, Mr. Charles ascended to the ninth floor of the apartment building in an attempt to gain entry into a friend's apartment, an entry that was denied by the occupant. He then ran down the hall and into a small room on the same floor containing the garbage chute.
* The subject officer and his partner went to the ninth floor in an attempt to find Mr. Charles. The subject officer approached the door to the garbage chute room, opened it and was confronted by Mr. Charles.
* The subject officer yelled out, 'he's got a gun,' and 'drop the weapon, drop the weapon.' The subject officer then discharged his firearm twice at a distance of approximately two metres, striking Mr. Charles in his chest area.
* One of the two bullets exited through his shoulder. At the scene was found a replica handgun which was in reality a pellet gun. A knife was also located.
* Notwithstanding the two bullet wounds, Mr. Charles was discharged from the hospital three weeks later and is expected to make a full recovery.

Director Scott said, "Based on this recitation of the incident, the subject officer was justified in using potentially lethal force against the complainant pursuant to s. 34(2) of the Criminal Code because the officer likely was threatened at close range with a weapon that appeared to be a fully functioning firearm. The officer gave Mr. Charles an opportunity to disarm himself, and when he did not comply, discharged his firearm. At this close proximity, the subject officer could reasonably believe that he could not otherwise preserve himself from imminent grievous bodily harm and accordingly was justified in shooting the complainant."

Director Scott added, "I have a concern about the preparation of some of the witness officers' notes in this matter. (The subject officer did not provide his notes nor submit to an interview as is his right.) The SIU was notified of this incident at 10:55 p.m. on June 22, 2010. By 11:25 p.m., before the arrival of any SIU investigators, an association lawyer had spoken to a number of the witness officers, and as noted by one of them in his notes, 'okay[ed] all submissions'.

"The case law around notes, training on this issue at the Ontario Police College and the recommendations of Mr. Justice Salhany from the Taman Inquiry make it clear that notes are to be written independently. Notes are the basis of all subsequent interviews and court testimony related to that incident. Here, we have an officer who wrote up his notes after they were approved by a lawyer, a lawyer who has a professional obligation to share information among jointly retained clients. This practice detrimentally affects my ability to assess the reliability of the information imparted by the witness officers because I cannot be certain whether that information is based upon their independent recollection or tainted by information received through their counsel. It clearly undermines the intent of s. 6 of O.Reg 673/98 of the Police Services Act which mandates segregation and non-communication among involved officers when the SIU is called in to investigate. I will be asking the Chief to inquire into this practice and provide me with a written response on this 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. 

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