SIU Concludes Burlington Firearm Death Investigation
Case Number: 11-OFD-042
Other News Releases Related to Case 11-OFD-042
Mississauga (21 April, 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 Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) with a criminal offence in regards to the firearm death of a 34-year-old Burlington man, in March of this year.
The SIU assigned eight investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the circumstances surrounding this incident. One officer was designated as a subject officer and six officers were designated as witness officers. Thirty-seven civilian witnesses were located and interviewed. The scene was processed by the SIU’s forensic investigators and a scale diagram of the scene was prepared. Relevant audio recordings and reports relating to this incident were obtained from the HRPS. A cell phone video recording of the events just prior to the shooting, taken by a civilian eyewitness, was also obtained and reviewed.
The SIU investigation determined the following:
• On March 12, 2011 the subject officer received information regarding a black Acura driving erratically in the City of Burlington.
• The vehicle was seen driving northbound in the southbound lanes of Guelph Line, then eastbound in the westbound lane of Fairview Street and, then, northbound in the southbound lanes of Walkers Line.
• The subject officer observed the vehicle go through a red light at the corner of Walkers Line and Mainway. The subject officer made a U-turn to follow the Acura.
• The subject officer activated his emergency lights on his unmarked police vehicle.
• The suspect vehicle came to an immediate halt. The subject officer stopped directly behind it.
• Both the subject officer and the man stepped out of their vehicles. The man approached the subject officer, yelling repeatedly, "you have no right" and "you’ll obey."
• The subject officer instructed the man to calm down and get back. The officer drew his firearm and continued to order him to "lie down, get back." The man stopped his advances but continued to yell at the officer.
• The officer saw that the man did not have a weapon and holstered his firearm and took out his pepper spray.
• The man began advancing toward the officer and attacked him, grabbing the officer in the throat area.
• The officer pepper sprayed the man and punched him in the face. The officer removed his ASP baton from his police issued Kevlar vest.
• The man again attacked the officer, grabbing his throat, punching him in the face and grabbing his hair. The officer pepper sprayed him again and struck him multiple times with his extended ASP, but the man was undeterred.
• The man tore the subject officer’s Kevlar vest off his body, causing the officer to drop his ASP. The man then picked up the ASP and began to advance on the officer.
• The officer drew his firearm, and yelled to "stay back, calm down."
• The man continued to act in a menacing fashion and advanced toward the officer with the officer’s ASP in his hand.
• The officer discharged his firearm once. The man was struck and fell to the ground. He later died as a result of a gunshot wound.
Director Scott said, "The subject officer had the lawful authority to initiate a suspect apprehension pursuit after observing the vehicle driven by the man driving in a manner dangerous to the public. He further had the authority to minimally detain and probably arrest the driver for dangerous driving under the Criminal Code after the suspect vehicle came to a halt. When the man began acting in an aggressive manner towards him, he had the authority to use more escalating force against him under the Criminal Code. The subject officer did precisely that; initially using verbal orders, then pepper spray, then punches and then his ASP. Unfortunately, the man escalated his aggression when he picked up the subject officer’s ASP and advanced toward him in a threatening manner, causing the officer to discharge his firearm."
Director Scott concluded, "In my view, under s. 34 (2) of the Code, the subject officer was justified in using lethal force because he had been unlawfully assaulted by the man, he had a reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm based upon the man’s prior aggression and his advancing upon him with a weapon in hand, the man’s non-compliance with verbal commands, and his reasonable belief that he could not escape from the situation. Accordingly, in my view, his action of causing the man’s death by discharging his firearm at him is legally justified and I cannot form grounds that a criminal offence took place."
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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