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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Firearm Injuries in Toronto

Case Number: 10-OFI-266

Mississauga (13 May, 2011) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge any officers of the York Regional Police (YRP) with a criminal offence in regards to the firearm injuries sustained by 40-year-old Antonio DaSilva and 33-year-old Ricky De Sousa in December 2010.

Eleven SIU investigators, five forensic investigators and a collision reconstructionist were assigned to investigate this incident. Two YRP officers were designated as subject officers. The SIU interviewed six witness officers (three with the YRP and three witness officers with Toronto Police Service (TPS). As a result of an appeal for witnesses, a canvass conducted by the SIU and information received from TPS, the SIU also interviewed nine civilian witnesses. The roadway scenes were processed and recorded by the SIU. Photographs and measurements were taken and video recordings made at two scenes. Scale drawings were produced and a collision reconstruction investigation was conducted. In addition, the SIU collected forensic evidence including spent cartridge cases and Mr. De Sousa’s vehicle for analysis at the Centre of Forensic Sciences.

The SIU investigation determined:

• In the early hours of December 10, 2010, the complainants were under surveillance as suspects in a series of violent gas and convenience store robberies.

• Mr. De Sousa was driving a red Caravan minivan with Mr. DaSilva as his passenger.

• The YRP robbery operation team consisted of five YRP police officers, all driving separate unmarked vehicles.

• The officers followed the suspects to the Weston Road and Lawrence Ave area in Toronto and observed them stopping and leaving two gas bars.

• While no robberies were committed, the officer-in-charge of the robbery operation team reasonably concluded that a robbery was imminent.

• The officer instructed his team to make a rolling stop of the minivan as it traveled south on Weston Road.

• Weston Road at this location is a four lane urban street with mixed residential/commercial properties on both sides of the roadway.

• The officer-in-charge positioned his vehicle in front of the van and applied his brakes.

• The Caravan driven by Mr. De Sousa collided into the rear of the officer’s vehicle, causing it to come to a stop.

• One of the witness officers stopped his unmarked vehicle behind the complainant’s Caravan.

• The two subject officers stopped their unmarked vehicles, exited, and approached the driver’s side with their firearms pointed at the driver, while yelling, "Police, don’t move!", "You’re under arrest!", "Show us your hands!" and, "Turn off the van!"

• During this interaction one of the subject officers smashed the driver’s side window.

• Instead of complying, the driver, Mr. De Sousa, began to flee the scene by rocking his van back and forward, hitting the police vehicles positioned in front and behind him.

• The subject officers fired approximately four rounds into either the front or driver’s side of the van.

• Mr. De Sousa managed to escape the police block by passing between the west side of the vehicle directly in front and over the west curb, and began speeding south on Weston Road.

• The subject officers collectively fired another fourteen shots at the fleeing vehicle.

• Approximately one and a half kilometres south, Mr. De Sousa lurched to the left near Ray Avenue.

• The van came to rest in a northerly direction against the east side curb of Weston Road just south of Ray Avenue.

• Two witness officers boxed in Mr. De Sousa’s Caravan at that location.

• Both suspects were arrested and handcuffed. No shots were fired at the second scene.

• Both suspects sustained bullet wounds in the incident; Mr. DaSilva, the passenger, received a bullet projectile in his head that entered the right rear skull area and lodged in his frontal lobe area. Another projectile passed through his left middle finger, causing it to be later partially amputated.

• Mr. De Sousa, the driver, received a bullet injury to the ring finger of his left hand.

Director Scott stated, "In my view, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that subject officers committed a criminal offence in relation to the gunshot injuries sustained by the complainants, Messrs. De Sousa & DaSilva, during their arrest on December 10, 2010."

As a result of forensics testing and ballistics reconstruction, the following points have been ascertained:

• Each subject officer fired nine rounds from his Glock pistol;

• Two rounds entered the front of the Caravan; two rounds entered the side and four entered the back of the van;

• One round entered an Acura parked on the west side of Weston Road;

• One round entered Mr. DaSilva’s head; and

• All shots were fired at the first scene near Weston Road and Lawrence.

However, the following factors contributed to an incomplete picture of what occurred with respect to material parts of the events in question:

• It is unclear where the subject officers were when they fired their nine rounds each. They were both in movement, as was the van;

• The rear window of the van was smashed out such that it was impossible to ascertain the trajectory of some of the projectiles that entered through the rear window area;

• The subject officers declined to be interviewed, as is their right;

• Because of the design of the Glock pistol barrels, it is impossible to attribute which subject officer fired which shot;

• Eleven projectiles were never found;

• The location of the spent cartridge cases does not assist in the location of fired rounds. They may have been inadvertently moved because the roadway was not secured and traffic continued to move through the scene; and

• The fact that the bullet entered the rear of Mr. DaSilva’s head is of limited probative value due to the head’s ability to move on multiple planes.

Director Scott explained, "As a result, while I am satisfied that the subject officers fired eighteen shots and one of them caused a serious injury to Mr. DaSilva, I cannot ascertain with any exactitude their location in relation to the suspect vehicle at the time of their discharges. Nor can I attribute any specific projectile to a particular subject officer. However, from the perspective of the subject officers, the van being driven by Mr. De Sousa may have represented an imminent threat to both their safety and that of the other officers in the immediate vicinity as it was attempting to break out of the block formed by the police vehicles. Accordingly, taking into consideration the highly dynamic nature of this high-risk takedown along with the many aforementioned uncertainties surrounding the actual firearms discharges, I am unable to form reasonable grounds that the subject officers used excessive force when they discharged eighteen rounds at the suspect vehicle and its driver. "

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. 

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