News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Incident at Queen's Park

Case Number: 05-TCI-027

TORONTO (13 May, 2005) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), James L. Cornish, has concluded that two Toronto Police Service (TPS) officers are not criminally responsible for the serious injuries to Anh Vuong.

On March 9, 2005, Mr. Vuong suffered a head injury and burns to his body after setting himself on fire. Mr. Vuong's van had been blocked in by some TPS cruisers at which point, a fire started from inside his car. The SIU initiated an investigation into the extent of police involvement surrounding Mr. Vuong's injuries.

The SIU investigation revealed that at approximately 12:30 p.m. that date, about 150 police officers from the TPS, including Emergency Task Force (ETF) officers, were at the Ontario Parliament buildings at Queen's Park. They were there because a large group of Ontario farmers and others had gathered in front of the Legislature to protest government policies.

At 12:41 p.m., the TPS communications center received calls from Mr. Vuong, who said he had a complaint with the TPS and wanted to speak with the Premier of Ontario. At about 12:48 p.m., police see Mr. Vuong in his van on the circular roadway leading to Queen's Park. Mr. Vuong was holding a handwritten sign proclaiming police torture and appeared to be making hand signals at the officers who were standing around the van. He shouted at the officers to get away and then held up both hands, showing a lighter in each. As the officers stepped back from the van, Mr. Vuong raised a gasoline can and poured gasoline over his upper body.

The officer in charge of police action at the protest arrived at the scene and instructed that the van be blocked in and not allowed to leave the area. Fire department personnel and paramedics were also positioned to assist. The officer approached the van, removed his police hat, and asked Mr. Vuong to leave the van. Mr. Vuong refused and moved his van forward several times. The police drove closer to the van to restrict its area of movement. As Mr. Vuong continued to drive toward the police, he shouted from his open window, "I repeat, I don't want to kill myself!"

A trained ETF negotiator arrived and told Mr. Vuong they were there to help him and asked him to stop driving the van. Mr. Vuong refused, reversed rapidly and then accelerated forward. Two marked cruisers then drove forward and struck the van, bringing it to a stop.

Mr. Vuong lit himself on fire and an ETF officer smashed the driver's side window with an extraction tool. Within seconds, Mr. Vuong was pulled from the van and the flames were extinguished. Mr. Vuong was immediately taken to hospital and treated for severe burns and a head injury.

Based on the available evidence, Director Cornish determined that the officer assigned to break the glass could not see where Mr. Vuong was because the flames had spread so quickly inside the van. Director Cornish stated, "When the extraction tool crashed through the window, it struck Mr. Vuong in the temple causing a significant skull fracture. I believe this was an accident. In all, I believe that the police did all they could to diffuse a situation created by Mr. Vuong, to protect those at Queen's Park and to rescue Mr. Vuong from a fiery death."

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