SIU Concludes York Firearm Injuries Investigation
Case Number: 11-OFI-144
Other News Releases Related to Case 11-OFI-144
Mississauga (28 September, 2011) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge an officer of the York Regional Police (YRP) with a criminal offence in regards to the firearm injuries sustained by 17-year-old male in a June incident.
The SIU assigned five investigators and three forensic investigators to investigate this incident. The scene was forensically mapped, photographed and videotaped. The area was canvassed and security camera footage reviewed. A police firearm and a projectile were seized. Twenty-five civilian witnesses were interviewed. Three officers with YRP and one officer with the Toronto Police Service 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 that on the evening of July 21, 2011, the subject officer responded to a dispatch regarding a robbery in progress at the Bell store located at 1 Commerce Drive in Aurora. There had been similar armed robberies in the past at this store. The subject officer was in plainclothes and operating an unmarked Dodge truck. Upon arrival the officer saw two males loosely fitting the description of the robbers leaving the Bell store and running first north and then in a westerly direction. The officer activated the emergency lights and followed them as they ran into an adjacent parking lot of a Rona store. The males separated and the subject officer followed one of the men, the complainant. The officer stopped the vehicle in front of the complainant, drew his police issued Glock handgun, exited his vehicle and shouted at the complainant to get down on the ground. The complainant did not immediately comply with the subject officer’s commands, requiring the officer to force him to the ground.
Once on the ground, the subject officer transferred his gun from his dominant right hand to his left hand in an attempt to free up his right hand so that he could better control the arrestee. In the process of the transfer, the gun discharged. The projectile went through the subject officer’s right forearm and fragments of the bullet struck the complainant on the left side of his head, causing bleeding in his left ear, jaw area and nose. As a result of a later medical diagnosis, it was discovered that the bullet fragments had entered his left mandible area, causing his jaw to break.
Director Scott stated, "The subject officer had the lawful authority to arrest the complainant after seeing an individual running from the crime scene who he reasonably believed was involved in the robbery and use reasonable force to make the arrest. Given the history of similar armed robberies at this store, the officer could reasonably conclude that the suspects might have been armed and therefore drew his firearm. The subject officer used force to take the suspect to the ground because he was not obeying his police commands. While attempting to subdue the complainant on the ground, the subject officer’s firearm discharged. The mechanism leading to the discharge is unclear. His gun may have been knocked in the struggle or he may have unintentionally squeezed the trigger. Whatever the reason, in my view, taking into account the trajectory of the bullet, the discharge was accidental – the subject officer clearly had no intention of shooting himself in the arm. As a result, I do not have reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officer committed an assault related offence against the complainant.
"Nor do I have grounds to believe that the subject officer was careless as this word is defined in the Criminal Code in the use of his firearm. This offence requires proof of conduct showing a marked departure from the standard of care of a reasonably prudent person in similar circumstances. The subject officer had the authority to have his firearm at the ready during the arrest given his reasonably held belief that the suspect may have been armed. While it is unfortunate that the complainant was injured, given the dynamic nature of this potentially high risk arrest, it is my view that this accidental discharge does not show a marked departure from the standard of care of a reasonably prudent police officer who found himself in circumstances similar to those of the subject officer."
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.
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