News Release

SIU Concludes Toronto Shooting Investigation

Case Number: 04-TFD-108

TORONTO (12 April, 2005) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), James L. Cornish, has determined that a Toronto Police Service (TPS) officer was legally justified in fatally shooting Courtney Peters on October 14, 2004.

The SIU investigation revealed that on that date, TPS drug squad officers were conducting surveillance on a suspected drug trafficker. Plain-clothes officers followed the man to Ellesmere Road and Victoria Park Avenue where he parked his car adjacent to a Petro-Canada gas station, located at the northeast corner of the intersection. The man walked toward the gas station where another man, later identified as Mr. Peters, arrived. Mr. Peters was in a black Infiniti and was stopped in the parking lot; the car's engine was running. The man got into the passenger side of Mr. Peters' car. Several officers in unmarked police cars positioned themselves at various locations around the parking lot and other officers mingled with the patrons at the gas pumps.

One of the officers saw what he believed to be was a drug transaction taking place between the man and Mr. Peters inside the car. At approximately 10:30 p.m., the surveillance team leader authorized the officers to move in and arrest the men as they sat in the Infiniti.

Three plain-clothes officers, wearing ballistic vests with "POLICE" markings, approached the car on foot with their guns drawn. The subject officer approached from the passenger's side while the other 2 officers approached from the front and on the driver's side. The officers yelled out they were police officers and ordered the men not to move.

As the subject officer approached the car, the passenger's door opened. The officer used the door for cover, shouted at the 2 men to show their hands, and pointed his gun into the car. Although the passenger raised his hands, Mr. Peters did not obey the officer's command to show his hands. Mr. Peters had his hands between his legs and was looking down. The officer again demanded that Mr. Peters show his hands. Mr. Peters accelerated and the car jolted forward from a stopped position and turned into the subject officer. The officer fired twice at or around the time the car struck him. Mr. Peters was shot and the officer was knocked to the ground by the car. The car came to a stop after colliding with one of the unmarked police cars that had pulled in front of the Infiniti to block it in.

Mr. Peters sat in the driver's seat mortally wounded and was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. The subject officer received a soft tissue injury to his left neck and shoulder.

Director Cornish weighed factors determining whether lethal force was necessary including:
· the manner in which Mr. Peters used his car that night;
· Mr. Peters' movements inside the car;
· Mr. Peters' non-compliance with police commands;
· the fact this was a high risk situation for the officers;
· the location of other officers near the Infiniti;
· the presence of innocent bystanders; and,
· the unavailability or impracticality of any retreat options.

In the end result the Director stated, "The officer had a reasonable and honestly held belief that Mr. Peters posed a real and imminent threat to the officer's life and safety and to the lives and safety of those in the vicinity. I believe the use of lethal force was necessary to attempt to end that threat."

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