SIU Concludes Death Investigation in Hamilton
Case Number: 14-OCD-070
Other News Releases Related to Case 14-OCD-070
The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Tony Loparco, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge a Hamilton Police Service (HPS) officer with any criminal offence in relation to the death of a 41-year-old man in March of this year.
The SIU assigned four investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this incident. As part of the investigation, 10 witness officer and three civilian witnesses were interviewed. The subject officer consented to an interview and provided the SIU with a copy of his duty notes.
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Wednesday, March 19, 2014:
- Between 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. that evening, HPS officers responded to an address on Woodman Drive North in Hamilton regarding a possibly suicidal man.
- HPS had also been notified by Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) that a woman, who was in a relationship with the man, had received photograph of a firearm via text message from the man and there was a concern that he was threatening to use it to harm himself.
- HPS officers set up a command post near the residence and the subject officer, an inspector, assumed overall command of the operation.
- Officers with the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) were also called to the scene. In tandem with other officers, an inner perimeter was established around the home and pedestrian and vehicular traffic was controlled with an outer perimeter.
- A van containing ERU officers rolled up to the front of the residence at about 6:50 p.m. From here, one of the ERU officers assumed a lead role in attempting to communicate with the man.
- The officer repeatedly asked the man to exit the home. The man refused and instead asked that the woman contact him. The officer told him this was not likely to occur.
- This first conversation between the officer and the man ended at about 7:00 p.m.
- A short time later the officer again called and spoke with the man. Once again, the man asked to speak with the woman. He had sent her messages via text and phone but not received any response. As it turns out, the woman had attended the HRPS police station in Burlington where she was instructed by police to refrain from contacting the man. The officer explained to the man that he would not be able to speak with her.
- The officer confirmed with the man that he did in fact own a firearm.
- The officer again asked the man to leave the house peacefully and without harm to the man or any of the officers.
- The man refused and said he would contact the officer again in five minutes.
- This second conversation ended at about 7:10 p.m.
- The police continued to try to contact him by phone, text message and loudspeaker until approximately 9:00 p.m.
- With no response from the man, the subject officer became increasingly concerned for his well-being and approved a plan that would see ERU officers enter the residence.
- At 11:08 p.m. ERU officers located the man in a bedroom on the upper floor of the residence. He had suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was deceased.
Director Loparco said, “The officers responded quickly to the man’s address. They had reason to believe he was armed with a gun and quickly established inner and outer perimeters around the house to control access and mitigate the risk to the public in the vicinity. That done, they turned their attention to the man. They attempted to communicate with him and were initially successful in speaking with him. They pleaded with him to come out peacefully. They expressed concern for his well-being and the safety of the officers. Following the point of last contact, they pressed ahead to establish a line of communication. Not hearing from the man for a couple of hours, they decided to enter the home. Once inside, the ERU officers moved methodically through the house until they finally discovered the man”.
Director Loparco concluded, “I am satisfied that the police response was entirely reasonable throughout this chain of events. Given the confirmed reports of a firearm, the threat of its use by the man and the attendant risks to the man and public safety, they were duty bound to take action. Their efforts to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the matter were earnest and diligent. While it is true they denied requests by the man and the woman to speak with each other during the standoff, I am unable to find fault with their decision. They were aware that the root of the man’s emotional upheaval was a faltering relationship with the woman. In the circumstances, they were right to conclude that communication between the two could as easily have set him off as it might have quelled the situation.
“Some might take issue with the length of time it took for the police to enter the home and, once inside, to locate the man. These concerns are easily dismissed. The officers knew the man was suicidal and emotionally unstable. They knew he was armed with a firearm and had threatened to use it. In the circumstances, it seems to me that the officers acted sensibly in exercising extreme caution and that their operational decision-making and execution proceeded as quickly as circumstances permitted. There are no grounds to proceed with charges in this case.”
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.
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342