News Release

SIU Concludes St. Thomas Investigation

Case Number: 06-OFI-016

Other News Releases Related to Case 06-OFI-016

SIU Investigates Shooting in St. Thomas

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TORONTO (13 February, 2006) --- James Cornish, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded that two St. Thomas Police Service (STPS) officers were legally justified in the shooting of Nelson Merritt on January 25, 2006.

The officers, who were subjects of an SIU investigation, shot Mr. Merritt during two separate confrontations on Centre Street in St. Thomas. Mr. Merritt was taken to hospital where he was treated for three gunshot wounds.

He has since been released into police custody where he faces charges in relation to a shooting at the Manx Arms Pub prior to the police's arrival. The STPS is investigating the circumstances of that shooting while the SIU investigation focused on the circumstances surrounding the police shootings that followed.

The SIU investigation determined that at 12:46 a.m. on January 25, 2006, several STPS officers responded to a shooting at the Manx Arms Pub on Talbot Street. When the officers arrived, they found a 40-year-old man suffering from fatal gunshot wounds.

The police identified Nelson Merritt as a suspect in the shooting and received information he had left the pub and was walking east on Talbot Street. Two officers found Mr. Merritt crossing Princess Street to Centre Street. They approached him and stopped their marked cruisers about 20 feet behind him.
The officers saw Mr. Merritt holding a handgun and became involved in a confrontation with him. One officer got out of his cruiser to seek cover while the other officer fired four times at Mr. Merritt through the windshield of his cruiser.

It appears that one of these shots hit him in the leg however, Mr. Merritt turned and walked eastbound on Centre Street. The officer, who discharged his firearm, followed Mr. Merritt in his cruiser as five other officers arrived on the scene from different directions.

The police followed and surrounded Mr. Merritt near a skate park at the dead end on Centre Street. Some of the officers were in their cruisers and some were on foot. A number of officers shouted commands and when Mr. Merritt did not comply, one officer fired and struck Mr. Merritt. When that round seemed to have no effect, the officer fired two more rounds before Mr. Merritt fell to the ground and dropped the gun.

Director Cornish concluded, "The officers involved in this incident faced a potentially lethal situation and, in my view, they were fully justified in meeting the threat they faced with deadly force. Fortunately Mr. Merritt survived."

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