SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-PFD-314
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Mandate of the SIU
Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation. If, after an investigation, there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence was committed, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the officer. Alternatively, in all cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director does not lay criminal charges but files a report with the Attorney General communicating the results of an investigation.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”)Pursuant to section 14 of FIPPA (i.e., law enforcement), certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Confidential investigative techniques and procedures used by law enforcement agencies; and
- Information whose release could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter or an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding.
- Subject Officer name(s);
- Witness Officer name(s);
- Civilian Witness name(s);
- Location information;
- Witness statements and evidence gathered in the course of the investigation provided to the SIU in confidence; and
- Other identifiers which are likely to reveal personal information about individuals involved in the investigation.
Pursuant to PHIPA, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (“PHIPA”)
Other proceedings, processes, and investigationsInformation may have also been excluded from this report because its release could undermine the integrity of other proceedings involving the same incident, such as criminal proceedings, coroner’s inquests, other public proceedings and/or other law enforcement investigations.
“Serious injuries” shall include those that are likely to interfere with the health or comfort of the victim and are more than merely transient or trifling in nature and will include serious injury resulting from sexual assault. “Serious Injury” shall initially be presumed when the victim is admitted to hospital, suffers a fracture to a limb, rib or vertebrae or to the skull, suffers burns to a major portion of the body or loses any portion of the body or suffers loss of vision or hearing, or alleges sexual assault. Where a prolonged delay is likely before the seriousness of the injury can be assessed, the Unit should be notified so that it can monitor the situation and decide on the extent of its involvement.
This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into the death of Gary Brohman.
Notification of the SIUOn November 19, 2020, at 2:06 p.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) notified the SIU of the death of 60-year-old Mr. Brohman, following an exchange of gunfire with OPP Constable (Cst) Marc Hovingh. Cst Hovingh was also killed in the incident.
The OPP reported that OPP officers were called to attend a property on Hindman Trail in Gore Bay, on Manitoulin Island. The property owner had reported a man (Mr. Brohman) was inside one of the trailers on the property and was not supposed to be there.
According to the OPP, Cst Hovingh and Witness Officer (WO) #1 arrived and spoke with the property owner, while Mr. Brohman was inside the trailer. Reportedly, Cst Hovingh stuck his head inside the trailer to take a look and was then shot by Mr. Brohman. Cst Hovingh returned gunfire, approximately three to five shots. WO #1 did not discharge his firearm.
An OPP Emergency Response Team (ERT) arrived and found Mr. Brohman inside the trailer with serious gunshot wounds. Mr. Brohman and Cst Hovingh were transported to the Mindemoya Hospital, where Cst Hovingh was soon pronounced deceased. Mr. Brohman was later also pronounced deceased. It remained unclear whether Mr. Brohman was wounded by Cst Hovingh or suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The TeamNumber of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 3
Three SIU investigators and two SIU forensic investigators (FIs) were dispatched to the scene. An additional FI was assigned to attend the post-mortem examination conducted in Toronto on Saturday, November 21, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.
The OPP contacted the Greater Sudbury Police Service (GSPS) and requested they conduct a parallel investigation on behalf of the OPP.
Efforts were made to contact the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin (UCCM) Anishnaabe Police, to discuss the cooperation of his police officers who had responded to the scene. The UCCM Anishnaabe Police authorized the OPP to release Civilian Witness (CW) #4’s  notes to the SIU.
Complainant:60-year-old male, deceased
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)
CW #4 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
Witness OfficersWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
The SceneHindman Trail is an un-assumed country trail cutting through forest east of the Town of Gore Bay. Hindman Trail runs east off Concession Road 14, which is also known as Scotland Road and East Bluff Road. Hindman Trail was in very poor condition due to recent rainfall and from vehicle traffic of hunters accessing hunting camps in the area.
CW #1 owns land used for hunting purposes and has a hunting camp built in the woods on his property. On the south side of Hindman Trail there was a hunting camp owned by another group of hunters. On the north side of Hindman Trail, on CW #1’s property, Mr. Brohman had hired someone to bulldoze a trail into the bush. Approximately 100 metres into the forest, Mr. Brohman had deposited a trailer and he was living in the trailer. The trail into the trailer was extremely poor and would have prevented passage of vehicles not equipped with four-wheel drive. Mr. Brohman’s pickup truck was located next to his trailer.
Figure 1 - The bulldozed road to Mr. Brohman's trailer.
Figure 2 - Mr. Brohman's trailer and pickup truck.
At the intersection of Scotland Road (Concession Road 14) and Hindman Trail there was an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and a white pickup truck that had been used to transport Mr. Brohman and Cst Hovingh from the scene to waiting ambulances. Both vehicles had deposits of blood on them.
A civilian had contacted the OPP on November 19, 2020 to express his concern the property might be booby-trapped with pipe bombs and propane tank bombs. As a result, there was a significant delay in SIU and GSPS forensic investigators accessing the scene.
On November 21, 2020, SIU and GSPS forensic investigators conducted a restricted examination of the scene. They were accompanied by a GSPS bomb technician, given that bomb material had indeed been identified on the property.
Five spent 9mm handgun cartridge cases, believed to have come from Cst Hovingh’s pistol, and three spent 12-gauge shotgun husks, from 00 buck shotshells, were located inside the trailer. There was damage to the walls of the trailer, consistent with a shotgun being fired inside the trailer. The floor inside the trailer, in the area of the front door (door closest to trailer tongue), was covered in blood.
Figure 3 - Two cartridge cases that were located inside the trailer.
Figure 4 – Some of the damage to the interior of the trailer.
Following the restricted examination inside the trailer, the scene was shut down by the bomb technicians given the likelihood of further improvised explosives being found on the property.
OPP and GSPS Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) officers continued to process the scene, finding numerous improvised explosives and chemicals that could be used to fabricate explosive and incendiary materials. During the examination of the trailer by EDU officers, numerous firearms were recovered. Another spent 9mm bullet case was located during the search for explosive devices.  A certificate from the Canadian Armed Forces was found inside the trailer, certifying Mr. Brohman had completed the Field Engineer Qualification Course in 1977.
Figure 5 - A firearm recovered at the scene.
Once Mr. Brohman’s trailer had been cleared, it was towed to a secure towing compound in Barrie. Examinations were completed on the trailer, by SIU and GSPS forensic investigators, on December 5, 2020.
Conducted energy weapons (CEWs) carried by WO #1 and Cst Hovingh were downloaded by the SIU. The SIU also conducted an audit of the pistols carried by Cst Hovingh and WO #1. It was determined Cst Hovingh’s pistol contained 11 rounds of ammunition, which is seven rounds less than the maximum number his Glock Model 17M could carry.
Figure 6 - Cst Hovingh's pistol.
WO #1’s CEW was armed and arc-tested at 6:55 a.m. on the morning of November 19, 2020. The CEW was armed at 10:58 a.m., for 60 seconds. It was armed again at 11:03 a.m., for 136 seconds.
Communications RecordingsThe recording began with WO #1 reporting, at 11:01 a.m., “Shots fired, shots fired, I need assistance now!”
WO #1 reported Cst Hovingh was still inside the trailer and WO #1 did not know the status of the subject (Mr. Brohman). He reported Cst Hovingh was in the trailer when shots were fired by the accused.
Somebody asked WO #1 if the shots came from inside the trailer, and WO #1 responded, “We went in to help this guy out and he pulled a gun from around the corner. Hovingh and the accused were both in the, were all in the trailer.”
UCCM Anishnaabe Police officers reported they were at a parked OPP vehicle on the trail [WO #1’s vehicle, parked at the end of Hindman Trail] and were making their way in further. They soon reported they were coming up on another parked OPP cruiser [Cst Hovingh’s vehicle, parked on Hindman Trail at the entrance to the property].
A large number of police officers responded to the scene.
UCCM Anishnaabe Police CW #4 reported he and WO #1 had a restricted view of the trailer and they would have to venture out into the open to obtain a better view.
An OPP ERT member reported being on scene. He reported the officer who was initially with Cst Hovingh [WO #1] was with him. He further reported both officers [Cst Hovingh and WO #1] were in the trailer when the man shot. The ERT member reported one of the officers [WO #1] retreated, the other [Cst Hovingh] was still inside the trailer.
Once OPP ERT members entered the trailer, a request was made for paramedics to immediately attend. It was reported Mr. Brohman had suffered a gunshot wound to his head and Cst Hovingh was breathing but unconscious.
A retired OPP officer, who was hunting in the hunting camp across the road from the scene, contacted the communications centre and reported all of their hunters were going to vacate the bush, in case a canine track was going to be needed. The retired OPP officer reported the suspect had been identified [by Cst Hovingh] the day before. He explained the matter started the day before, when the property owners asked police to remove a squatter from the property. Cst Hovingh attended the property during the day but found nobody on the property.
At 11:15 a.m., the ambulance service contacted the OPP to report they were receiving reports regarding a police officer being shot. The OPP call-taker advised there were multiple OPP officers on their way to the scene. The ambulance service put a woman through to the OPP.
The woman reported an OPP officer [WO #1] was with her but the other police officer was down, and they did not know his status. The woman then spoke to [CW #2] saying, “Don’t go in there. What does that OPP officer want you to do? Why is he letting you guys go in there?” The woman reported she was speaking to [CW #1] and [CW #2]. She reported [CW #2] and [CW #1] were going back with [WO #1] to see if the other officer was down. She reported, “The boys loaded up their guns and went back in with the officer, ahead of the officer, who has fucking armour on!”
The woman reported she was researching the man [Mr. Brohman] and found he had owned a tactical supply company. She further discovered the man, whom she identified as Gary Brohman, had been arrested for drug trafficking in 2004. Entries on Mr. Brohman’s Facebook account indicated he had been a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. She further reported Mr. Brohman’s Facebook account suggested he had hatred for police, and there was an indication or statement he would shoot police.
Responding to a comment from CW #2, the woman commented, “His partner just got shot. He’s clearly fucked up.” The woman reported [WO #1] was in shock and mumbling. CW #2 had told her the officer [WO #1] did not know what to do.
CW #2 was put on the telephone and spoke to the OPP call-taker. He reported he was six feet away [when the shooting occurred] and saw the whole thing happen. He reported [Cst Hovingh] went down inside the trailer and was then calling out to his partner to get in there. Cst Hovingh was lying near the door of the trailer and the suspect was in the back room of the trailer when the shots were fired.
At 3:53 p.m., a man contacted the OPP to caution them that Mr. Brohman might have booby-trapped the property with pipe bombs and propane tank bombs.
Materials obtained from Police ServiceThe SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the OPP:
- A copy of the related communications recordings from November 19, 2020;
- A copy of the computer aided dispatch record;
- A list of past OPP occurrences involving Mr. Gary Brohman;
- Scene photographs;
- The Canadian Police Information Centre record for Mr. Brohman;
- OPP Justice Officials Protection and Investigation Section Bulletin regarding Mr. Brohman;
- A 2009 occurrence report from the West Nipissing Police Service regarding an allegation by Mr. Brohman of torture committed by a surgeon during surgery;
- Notes of WO #1, WO #3, WO #4 and CW #4;
- OPP Training Records for WO #1 and Cst Hovingh; and
- OPP Policy regarding CEWs.
WO #2 advised the SIU he did not have any notebook entries regarding this incident.
Materials obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU also obtained photographs recorded by a civilian witness.
The shooting occurred in Mr. Brohman’s trailer at about 11:00 a.m. on November 19, 2020. Cst Hovingh had entered the trailer seeking to arrest Mr. Brohman for mischief. Soon after the officer entered the trailer, Mr. Brohman picked up a pump-action shotgun and fired his weapon three times at Cst Hovingh. Cst Hovingh, though struck, was able to draw his sidearm and return fire, shooting in Mr. Hovingh’s direction seven times.
Mr. Brohman had unlawfully set up a trailer about 6.9 metres in length on land owned by CW #1, a distance off the Hindman Trail northeast of Gore Bay. CW #1 had stumbled onto the trailer the morning of November 18, 2020 when he noticed that someone had bulldozed a road onto his property from the Hindman Trail to the trailer. In the evening of that date, CW #1 had attended at the trailer to confront Mr. Brohman. Mr. Brohman falsely asserted a legal interest in the property and was told by CW #1 to remove himself and his trailer from the land. Not wanting the argument to escalate any further, CW #1 and CW #2 left the property indicating that they would return the next day.
At about 10:00 a.m. of November 19, 2020, Cst Hovingh, who had attended at the scene with CW #1 the afternoon of the day before only to find the trailer empty, returned to the area. He was with WO #1. Having looked into the matter and satisfied himself that CW #1 owned the land and Mr. Brohman was trespassing, Cst Hovingh was there to ensure that Mr. Brohman and his trailer would be leaving. Mr. Brohman opened the door of his trailer to the officers and, told he had to vacate the land, again claimed that he had a legal right to be there.
CW #1 and CW #2 arrived in their all-terrain vehicles as the officers were speaking with Mr. Brohman. CW #1 approached them and reiterated that Mr. Brohman was to leave the area immediately. When told by Mr. Brohman that he had nowhere to go, CW #1 offered to help by bringing in heavy equipment to transport the trailer off the land and agreed to give Mr. Brohman until noon of the following day to leave. Mr. Brohman was amendable to the arrangement.
As the officers, CW #1 and CW #2 began to walk away from the trailer, Cst Hovingh observed about twenty propane cylinders. Suspicious about what was going on, Cst Hovingh walked north of the trailer with CW #1 and observed another clearing that was being used to grow marijuana plants; most of the plants had been harvested. Cst Hovingh contacted WO #1 and asked him to join him at the clearing. WO #1, who had been walking with CW #2, returned to see for himself the cultivation area. He estimated that a 100,000 dollars’ worth of marijuana had been grown on the land. CW #1 now made it clear that he would not wait until the following day to have Mr. Brohman leave; he wanted him off his property immediately. The officers agreed.
Cst Hovingh and WO #1 made their way back to the trailer door and asked for Mr. Brohman to step outside. Mr. Brohamn largely ignored the officers. When he did respond, Mr. Brohman reminded the officers that he had until the next day to leave and told them to go away. The officers explained that circumstances had changed and that they needed to speak to him. When Mr. Brohman continued to refuse to open the locked door, Cst Hovingh reached into the rear bed of Mr. Brohman’s pickup truck, parked near the front entrance, removed a shovel, and used it to try and pry open the door. CW #1 then gave the officers an axe, which was used to successfully force open the door.
WO #1, his CEW drawn, entered the trailer. From the front of the trailer, he spoke with Mr. Brohman, located about four to six metres away at the rear of the trailer in the bedroom area. He repeatedly directed Mr. Brohman to show his hands and asked him to exit the trailer and leave the property. Mr. Brohman refused. He said he had nowhere to go and argued that he had 24 hours to leave. Mr. Brohman also told the officer to shut his “Taser” off, and uttered words to the effect of, “Go away. I’m not going through this again.”
As it did not appear that WO #1 was making any headway with Mr. Brohman, Cst Hovingh, who had been standing outside the trailer by the doorway, asked to switch places with his colleague. He stepped into the trailer in front of WO #1, who was now by the threshold of the door. As Cst Hovingh took a couple of steps forward, Mr. Brohman turned toward the corner of the bedroom. When he turned around again, he was holding a shotgun pointed in Cst Hovingh’s direction.
Mr. Brohman fired three shots from his shotgun. Cst Hovingh quickly returned fire, discharging seven rapid rounds from his 9mm semi-automatic pistol.
WO #1, CW #1 and CW #2 retreated from the trailer to positions of cover; WO #1 in the bush and the latter two behind Mr. Brohman’s pickup truck. WO #1 reported over his radio that shots had been fired and that assistance was required immediately. At his father’s direction, CW #2 left on his ATV to go to their hunting camp and returned with firearms. He gave a shotgun to his father, who trained it at the trailer in the event Mr. Brohman was to exit the vehicle. CW #1 was concerned for the safety of hunters in the area should an armed Mr. Brohman escape the area.
The first officers to arrive at the scene after the shooting were from the UCCM Anishnaabe Police. They took over from CW #1 at the pickup truck and assisted in containing the trailer while they waited for OPP ERT officers to arrive.
ERT officers arrived and entered the trailer, after which paramedics attended and began to render first aid to Cst Hovingh and Mr. Brohman. The wounded officer was breathing but unconscious. Both individuals were rushed to hospital, where they were pronounced deceased.
Cause of Death
Cst Hovingh had been struck twice in the left thigh. The pathologist’s preliminary view at autopsy attributed Cst Hovingh’s death to shotgun wounds to his left thigh.
Section 34, Criminal Code -- Defence of person - Use of threat of force
(a) They believe on reasonable grounds that force is being used against them or another person or that a threat of force is being made against them or another person;(b) The act that constitutes the offence is committed for the purpose of defending or protecting themselves or the other person from that use or threat of force; and(c) The act committed is reasonable in the circumstances.
(a) the nature of the force or threat;(b) the extent to which the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force;(c) the person’s role in the incident;(d) whether any party to the incident used or threatened to use a weapon;(e) the size, age, gender and physical capabilities of the parties to the incident;(f) the nature, duration and history of any relationship between the parties to the incident, including any prior use or threat of force and the nature of that force or threat;(f.1) any history of interaction or communication between the parties to the incident;(g) the nature and proportionality of the person’s response to the use or threat of force; and(h) whether the act committed was in response to a use or threat of force that the person knew was lawful.
Analysis and Director's Decision
The law of self-defence in Canada is rooted in section 34 of the Criminal Code. It legally justifies conduct intended to thwart a reasonably apprehended attack, both actual and threatened, if the conduct is itself reasonable in the circumstances. Among the considerations bearing on the reasonableness of the conduct in question are the nature of the force or threat; the extent to which the use of force was imminent and whether there were other means available to respond to the potential use of force; and, whether any party to the incident used or threatened to use a weapon. In my view, the force used by Cst Hovingh, namely, the repeated discharge of his firearm at Mr. Brohman, fell squarely within the justification of section 34.
When Cst Hovingh entered the trailer and was quickly confronted by Mr. Brohman, at a distance of some four to five metres away, firing a shotgun at him, he was entitled to resort to lethal force of his own. The officer’s life was manifestly in jeopardy at the time, as his subsequent passing due to shotgun wounds to the leg confirmed. And nothing short of a firearm would have provided the sort of rapid and immediately incapacitating effect that was imperative if Cst Hovingh was to have any chance of saving his life. Withdrawal or disengagement was not an option largely because neither was available to Cst Hovingh. The officer was caught by surprise as Mr. Brohman turned toward him with a shotgun and started to fire. In the circumstances, it would appear that the officer had only split seconds to react, and may have even been wounded, by the time he drew his gun and started to fire back.
Cst Hovingh’s gunfire was also a reasonable response in defence of the lives and safety of his partner, WO #1, and the civilian witnesses – CW #1 and CW #2 – all of whom were in the vicinity of the trailer when the shots rang out. Faced with an armed individual shooting at him, Cst Hovingh could only have concluded that all of their lives were in imminent peril if Mr. Brohman was left unchecked and allowed to exit the trailer, particularly as WO #1 was in the area of the trailer door’s threshold when Mr. Brohman first fired. Mr. Brohman must have known that his arrest was unavoidable and he acted as if he had nothing left to lose. On this record, it is entirely conceivable that Cst Hovingh’s actions served to deter what could well have been a continuing risk to the lives and limbs of others around him.
The issue of whether the officers were lawfully inside the trailer at the time of the shooting is one that need not be addressed. In R v Feeney,  2 SCR 13, the Supreme Court of Canada held that police officers could generally not lawfully force their way into a dwelling-house to effect an arrest in the absence of a warrant.  On the one hand, it is clear that Cst Hovingh and WO #1 forcibly entered a trailer where Mr. Brohman resided without judicial pre-authorization or the existence of exigent circumstances. On the other hand, Mr. Brohman had set up his trailer unlawfully on land owned by CW #1; he was a trespasser on the property whom the officers had reason to believe was engaged in an illegal marijuana grow operation. Be that as it may, Mr. Brohman was at no point entitled to use lethal force against the officers. When he did so, whatever the officers’ status inside the trailer, they were entitled to defend themselves. 
A final note is warranted about the aftermath of the shooting and, specifically, the length of time it took before police and then paramedics entered the trailer. Though the shooting happened at about 11:00 a.m., it was not until about 12:30 p.m., with the arrival of ERT officers, that police gained entry. I am unable to fault the officers on scene for waiting for ERT officers. While WO #1, initially, and then other arriving officers would have known that Cst Horvingh had been injured, no one was sure about the status of Mr. Brohman. As far as they knew, he could easily have been lying in wait in the trailer still capable of inflicting grievous bodily harm or death. In this regard, it is telling to note that post-incident forensic analysis of the scene led to the discovery of dozens of improvised explosives and incendiary materials on the property, and numerous firearms inside the trailer. Moreover, a civilian witness, on hearing of the shooting, contacted police at about 3:30 p.m. to warn them of his concern that the property might be booby-trapped with pipe bombs and propane tank bombs. In the circumstances, I am satisfied that the decision to wait to deploy an ERT team – with their specialized training and resources – was an entirely prudent one.
In the result, I am satisfied for the foregoing reasons that Cst Hovingh conducted himself lawfully throughout his engagement with Mr. Brohman, justifiably resorting to lethal force that resulted in Mr. Brohman’s death at the same time as he too suffered mortal gunshot wounds. The file is closed.
Date: March 22, 2021
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) CW #4 is a police officer with the UCCM Anishnaabe Police Service, which the SIU does not have jurisdiction to compel to cooperate in the conduct of its investigations. For the purposes of the investigation, CW #4 was treated as a civilian witness, meaning all cooperation with the investigation was voluntary. [Back to text]
- 2) A seventh spent 9mm cartridge case was subsequently found as items retrieved from the scene were being processed. [Back to text]
- 3) Parliament subsequently codified the law laid out in the Feeney decision by enacting sections 529 to 529.5 of the Criminal Code. [Back to text]
- 4) Having reviewed section 35 of the Criminal Code, setting out the limits of justifiable force used in the protection of one’s property, I am satisfied that Mr. Brohman had no claim to the defence. This is so for a variety of reasons, including the fact that by the time of the shooting, whatever erroneous claim Mr. Brohman may have believed he had to an interest in the land would not have been based on reasonable grounds. [Back to text]
The signed English original report is authoritative, and any discrepancy between that report and the French and English online versions should be resolved in favour of the original English report.