SIU Concludes Investigation into Elgin Shooting
Case Number: 05-PFD-171
On November 5, 2005, seven SIU investigators were sent to Elgin to probe the circumstances of the police shooting. As part of the investigation, one OPP officer was identified as having discharged his firearm during the incident and designated as a subject officer. In total, investigators interviewed 26 police and civilian witnesses. The police communication tape was reviewed and the involved officers' uniforms and firearms were examined. Forensic identification technicians measured and photographed the scene, and obtained aerial photos of Patterson Boulevard and Wilson Street to further analyze the shooting scene. A black computer mouse, telephone set and a spent cartridge discharged from the subject officer's firearm were retrieved from the scene and also analyzed.
The SIU investigation determined that on November 4, 2005, at about 10:40 p.m., two OPP officers responded to a call of an unwanted, irate and intoxicated man outside a home at a trailer park on Patterson Boulevard in Elgin. The man was identified as Jason Steacy.
While the officers were en route to the park, the police dispatcher advised them that Mr. Steacy had a past criminal record and was flagged for violence, mental instability and suicidal tendencies. They also learned that Mr. Steacy had just stabbed a man in the neck with a knife and fled that scene.
The officers arrived at the park at about 11:15 p.m. and examined the injured man and talked to witnesses. It was about 11:20 p.m. when the officers set out on foot to search for Mr. Steacy. The dispatcher provided a physical description and advised the officers that Mr. Steacy may be unpredictable and armed with weapons. Additional OPP officers were dispatched to the trailer park to assist.
The officers found Mr. Steacy inside his trailer on Wilson Street. It was dark outside. It was also dark inside the trailer, with some dim, ambient light coming from a computer screen inside the trailer. The front door was broken and off its hinges, leaning inward.
The officers took up positions near the front door of the trailer and saw Mr. Steacy packing a bag. They watched as Mr. Steacy talked on the telephone and moved around the trailer to a computer. They heard Mr. Steacy ask for someone to come and get him because he had just slit someone's throat and the "cops" were all over the place.
The officers drew their guns and asked the dispatcher for radio silence as they continued to monitor Mr. Steacy's actions as he variously changed positions at the computer from sitting to standing. His back was to the front door.
At about 11:40 p.m., the two officers entered the trailer with their guns drawn to arrest Mr. Steacy. They entered in a tandem position, with the subject officer in front, because of the trailer's narrow hallway. Mr. Steacy was seated in front of the computer at the time. Mr. Steacy turned his upper body partially toward the officers. He was holding the phone in his left hand but his right hand was not totally visible to either officer. However, both officers saw a black object in Mr. Steacy's right hand and believed it was a handgun. The lead officer yelled, "Police, don't move. Put it down."
Mr. Steacy continued to turn counter clockwise toward the officers. As he did so, the subject officer, fearing Mr. Steacy was turning in his direction with a gun, fired once, striking Mr. Steacy on the left side of his chest. He slumped into the chair. The officers immediately began to administer first aid in an effort to save his life. Additional officers arrived and took over while the involved officers left the trailer to await the paramedics' arrival.
Paramedics transported Mr. Steacy to Kingston General Hospital where he was pronounced dead. A post mortem examination determined Mr. Steacy died from a single gunshot wound to the chest.
After a careful consideration of all the available evidence, the Director stated, "The officers' information indicated they were dealing with an intoxicated and unstable man that was at large in the confines of a trailer park. Mr. Steacy's arrest was imperative in the interests of public safety. Given everything the officers knew, they had good reason to fear that Mr. Steacy might be armed and react violently to their efforts to arrest him. When they entered the trailer, the officers knew Mr. Steacy had a phone in his left hand. What obviously took them by surprise was the object in Mr. Steacy's right hand - what turned out to be the black computer mouse found at the scene. The forensic evidence is consistent with the officers' evidence that Mr. Steacy ignored the officers' commands and was in the process of turning in the officers' direction when the subject officer discharged his weapon, once."
Director Cornish concluded the subject officer was involved in a very dynamic situation where he had a split second to determine his course of action. He added, "I believe the subject officer had a reasonable albeit mistaken belief that Mr. Steacy was holding a gun in his right hand. The subject officer reasonably (in the context of that term as it is defined by our criminal law) feared for his life and safety and for that of his fellow officer and was justified in using deadly force."
The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials (police officers as well as special constables with the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service) that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must
- consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
- depending on the evidence, cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official where grounds exist for doing so, or close the file without any charges being laid
- publicly report the results of its investigations
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342