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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation of Firearm Death in Thornhill

Case Number: 11-OFD-156

Mississauga (20 September, 2011) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge officers of the York Regional Police (YRP) with a criminal offence in regards to the firearm death of 49-year-old Kaveh Sabouri Tabatabaei in August of this year.

The SIU assigned six investigators and two forensic investigators to the investigation. The SIU made a digital photographic record of the scene, collected physical evidence, and seized exhibits relevant to the incident. One civilian witness was identified and interviewed. Five officers were designated as witness officers and three officers were designated as subject officers. All eight officers were interviewed.

The SIU investigation determined that on the evening of August 1, 2011, the three subject officers, along with five other officers, responded to an urgent 911 call concerning blood in a residence at 90 Cottonwood Court. Some of the officers breached the front door and others went around the back and entered through a sliding door. Ultimately, all found their way into the kitchen. There, they saw Mr. Tabatabaei’s estranged spouse, Ms. Toreihi, lying unconscious on the kitchen floor with multiple stab wounds to her body. Mr. Tabatabaei was lying beside her with his left hand holding her right hand. In his right hand, Mr. Tabatabaei was holding a large kitchen knife. There were obvious signs of trauma at the scene. The officers observed Mr. Tabatabaei alternating between stabbing himself with the knife and swinging it at the officers. Many of the officers drew their handguns and shouted at Mr. Tabatabaei to drop the knife.

There were numerous attempts to disarm Mr. Tabatabaei in order that the officers could reach the woman, who was in obvious need of immediate medical attention, and to prevent him from doing her further harm. One of the subject officers tried to pin the decedent down with a kitchen chair. Another tried advancing with his baton asp. Two officers used pepper spray. None of these tactics were successful in subduing the decedent. He continued to lash out with the knife when officers attempted to approach him. Deployment of a conducted energy weapon was not an option because none of the officers at the scene were assigned one.

Two of the subject officers made the decision that they had no alternative but to shoot Mr. Tabatabaei. They discharged their firearms at him. Mr. Tabatabaei went limp and officers immediately went to the aid of both parties. Unfortunately, Ms. Toreihi could not be revived and was declared dead at the scene. Mr. Tabatabaei also died at the scene as a result of a gunshot wound to the heart.

As a preliminary matter, in the view of the SIU Director, all officers were justified in entering the residence without a warrant due to the exigent circumstances that prevailed – they had reasonable grounds to suspect that entry into the house was necessary to prevent imminent bodily harm or death after receiving information concerning blood in the house.

Director Scott concluded, "The three subject officers’ actions leading to the demise of Mr. Tabatabaei were justified under s. 27 of the Criminal Code. This section permits the use of lethal force to prevent the commission of a serious offence that would likely cause immediate and serious injury to anyone else. Here, the officers were confronted with a man who had already caused very serious wounds to his estranged wife, and continued to wield a large knife, harming himself and threatening any officer who came close to him. The officers tried a series of less than lethal force options in an attempt to disarm the decedent and were unsuccessful due to no fault of their own. The subject officers could reasonably believe that Mr. Tabatabaei was going to cause even more harm to Ms. Toreihi by stabbing her again. Even if he did not attempt to stab her again, he was preventing the officers from rendering immediate aid to an individual who was in clear medical distress. Given the close proximity of Ms. Toreihi to Mr. Tabatabaei, his resistance to any attempt to disarm himself and his threatening movements with the knife, I am of the view that the officers were justified in using lethal force in an attempt to both prevent another stabbing and to permit immediate first aid. Tragically, she succumbed to the stab wounds that had been inflicted upon her by the decedent before the arrival of the involved officers. This outcome, however, does not detract from the reasonable belief of the subject officers that it was necessary to use lethal force in an attempt to save her."

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