News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Fatal Shooting in Durham

Case Number: 05-OFD-024

TORONTO (25 April, 2005) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), James L. Cornish, has concluded that the fatal shooting of Elyas Bariali by a Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) officer was legally justified.

The SIU immediately assigned seven investigators to probe the circumstances surrounding the police shooting. As part of the investigation, one subject and three witness officers from the DRPS were designated and a total of 10 police and civilian witnesses were interviewed. As well, investigators requested and reviewed the police communications tape, a copy of the DRPS Use of Force policy and the subject officer's uniform and firearm. Forensic identification technicians analyzed and seized all evidentiary items from the shooting scene, including a black-handled flat head screwdriver.

The SIU investigation revealed that on March 6, 2005, at approximately 8:35 a.m., three DRPS officers responded to a Tim Horton's outlet on King Street East in Oshawa to find a man suffering from multiple stab and puncture wounds. The man alleged he had been stabbed with a screwdriver and directed police to 41 Drew Street to find the person responsible. The police went to the rooming house with the intent to arrest Mr. Bariali for the attack.

The officers had reason to believe Mr. Bariali was living on the ground floor. One officer walked up a flight of stairs and knocked on the porch door while the other two officers remained at the foot of the stairs. Mr. Bariali opened the door, holding a screwdriver in his hand. All three officers withdrew their firearms and commanded Mr. Bariali to drop the screwdriver. The officer at the top of the stairs retreated backwards down the stairway and the three officers stood facing Mr. Bariali.

Mr. Bariali also descended down the stairs and walked toward the officers. The officers pointed their firearms and slowly retreated backwards to put distance between themselves and Mr. Bariali. Despite repeated commands from the police to stop and drop the screwdriver, Mr. Bariali ignored the commands and continued to advance on the officers. Mr. Bariali was about 15 feet away from the three officers when the subject officer fired once, striking Mr. Bariali in the chest. Mr. Bariali was treated by paramedics at the scene and taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

After a careful review of all the available evidence, Director Cornish concluded the officers had to act quickly on the complaint they received since they had information that Mr. Bariali had just acted violently, had used a weapon, and was likely still in possession of that weapon and in proximity to other people. He stated, "I believe the involved officers reasonably feared for their lives and safety and for that of their fellow officers and other citizens and that the subject officer was justified in using deadly force."

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