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News Release

SIU Concludes Toronto Firearm Injuries Investigation

Case Number: 11-TFI-032

Mississauga (20 May, 2011) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge any officer of the Toronto Police Service (TPS) with a criminal offence in regards to the firearm injuries sustained by 29-year-old Garth Williams on February 21, 2011.

The SIU assigned five investigators and two forensic investigators to investigate this occurrence. The scene was processed, evidence was gathered, and a scale diagram was prepared. Relevant documents were obtained from the TPS. Eleven civilian witnesses were interviewed. Five officers were designated as witness officers and interviewed. One officer was designated as a subject officer and declined, as is his right, to be interviewed.

The SIU investigation determined the following;

• The subject officer and two witness officers were dispatched to a domestic violence call at an address on Weston Road. They were informed that Mr. Williams had struck a woman with a machete;

• When the officers arrived at the address a bloodied woman met them outside the building, She directed them to a ground floor apartment;

• Mr. Williams left the apartment complex by the front door with the machete. He was pacing back and forth in front of the doorway area. The officers commanded him to drop the machete on multiple occasions;

• He refused to do so;

• One witness officer discharged his Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) at Mr. Williams. His body turned to the right, apparently as a result of the shock from the CEW and was facing in a westerly direction;

• The subject officer discharged his police issued Glock pistol four times at Mr. Williams;

• The forensics reconstruction of the bullet trajectory supports the finding that two bullets entered Mr. Williams’ back, one bullet grazed the back of his neck, and the remaining bullet struck the apartment wall to the west of the subject officer;

• Mr. Williams ran in a westerly direction as at least two of those bullets were fired, turned north at the corner of the apartment building, and then east where he dropped his machete;

• He ran onto a Shell station gas station lot where he attempted to douse himself with gasoline. One of the witness officers caught up to him, and told him he was under arrest;

• Mr. Williams ran eastbound towards Weston Road where he dove in front of an oncoming car. He was apprehended on the roadway and transported to a hospital for medical treatment.

Director Scott said, "It is difficult to ascertain what happened in this incident. Mr. Williams gave the investigators a cursory statement and has not since then provided any further information. The subject officer did not consent to an SIU interview or provide the SIU with his notes as is his legal right. The two witness officers who were with the subject officer at the time of the shooting provided statements that do not assist - one said he did not see the discharges and the other’s observations do not square with the forensic evidence related to the bullet trajectories."

Director Scott concluded, "As a result of this dearth of reliable information, I cannot arrive at an informed conclusion as to the likely series of events leading to the subject officer discharging his firearm four times with two of those bullets entering Mr. Williams’ back. However, I am satisfied that the subject officer likely had a reasonably held belief that Mr. Williams used a machete to injure another person and still had it in his hands when he first encountered the officers and as he was fleeing from the police. Accordingly, under ss. 25(4) of the Criminal Code, the subject officer may have had the lawful authority to use lethal force because he had the reasonably held belief that Mr. Williams represented an imminent danger to others and was fleeing from the police. As a result, I cannot form reasonable grounds that the shooting was unjustified in these circumstances."

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. 

Frank Phillips, frank.phillips@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342