SIU Director’s Report - Case # 20-OFI-360
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Mandate of the SIU
Under the SIU Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence was committed. If such grounds exist, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the official. Alternatively, in cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director cannot lay charges. Where no charges are laid, a report of the investigation is prepared and released publicly, except in the case of reports dealing with allegations of sexual assault, in which case the SIU Director may consult with the affected person and exercise a discretion to not publicly release the report having regard to the affected person’s privacy interests.
Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019Pursuant to section 34, certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- The name of, and any information identifying, a subject official, witness official, civilian witness or affected person.
- Information that may result in the identity of a person who reported that they were sexually assaulted being revealed in connection with the sexual assault.
- Information that, in the opinion of the SIU Director, could lead to a risk of serious harm to a person.
- Information that discloses investigative techniques or procedures.
- Information, the release of which is prohibited or restricted by law.
- Information in which a person’s privacy interest in not having the information published clearly outweighs the public interest in having the information published.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy ActPursuant to section14 (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 that could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter or an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding.
Pursuant to section 21 (i.e., personal privacy), protected personal information is not included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- The names of persons, including civilian witnesses, and subject and witness officials;
- 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.
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004Pursuant to this legislation, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Other proceedings, processes, and investigationsInformation may also have 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.
A person sustains a “serious injury” for purposes of the SIU’s jurisdiction if they: sustain an injury as a result of which they are admitted to hospital; suffer a fracture to the skull, or to a limb, rib or vertebra; suffer burns to a significant proportion of their body; lose any portion of their body; or, as a result of an injury, experience a loss of vision or hearing.
In addition, a “serious injury” means any other injury sustained by a person that is likely to interfere with the person’s health or comfort and is not transient or trifling in nature.
This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into apparent serious injuries sustained by a 30-year-old man (the “Complainant”).
Notification of the SIUOn December 25, 2020, at 4:10 a.m., the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) reported the following:
At 1:24 a.m., December 25, 2020, NRPS received a call for assistance from the Hamilton Police Service (HPS) to locate the Complainant, who was said to be in the St. Catharines area, and suicidal. His cell phone was “pinged” and, at 2:49 a.m., NRPS police officers spotted his vehicle at Vansickle Road and St. Paul Street West. A stop stick was deployed.
The Complainant engaged the police officers and was shot several times.
The Complainant was taken to Niagara Health System hospital, St. Catharines, in serious but stable condition.
The scene was held, and the ambulance in which the Complainant was transported was secured. The police officers involved had returned to the NRPS Niagara Falls Detachment.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 12/25/2020 at 5:23 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 12/25/2020 at 6:45 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 5
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 2
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):30-year-old male, declined to participate in an interview
Civilian WitnessesCW Interviewed
The CW was interviewed on December 26, 2020.
Subject OfficialsSO #1 Declined interview, as is the subject official’s legal right. Notes received and reviewed.
SO #2 Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject official’s legal right.
SO #2 was interviewed on December 30, 2020.
Witness OfficialsWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed on December 28, 2020.
The Scene The scene was attended, examined and processed by SIU forensic investigators. A scale drawing captured the scene. The police vehicle closest to the Ford Focus, operated by the Complainant, was operated by WO #4. To the north of that police vehicle was the police vehicle operated by SO #2. SO #1 and WO #3 arrived in the police vehicle furthest south.
St. Paul Street West was a paved roadway oriented in an east-west direction and marked, with a centre dividing line, to allow for one lane of traffic in each direction. Vansickle Road was oriented in a north-south direction and intersected St. Paul Street West, west of the scene.
The area south of St. Paul Street West was populated by single story homes, designed for single-family occupancy, separated from the roadway by a generous grass boulevard and a sidewalk, of common width. A large industrial/commercial property populated the north side of St. Paul Street West and was further separated from the roadway by a mature tree-row. A business, operated as Frost Emissions, occupied space on the northwest corner of St. Paul Street West and Vansickle Road.
At the time of examination, the area was covered with snow that had fallen throughout the night and morning. The police and the civilian vehicle were on St. Paul Street West, approximately 25 to 30 metres East of Vansickle Road.
Figure 1 - The scene of the shooting.
Electronic flares had been placed and medical equipment littered the road near the north curb. The flares had been placed next to spent cartridge cases. A box had been placed over the knife that was in its extended, or open position, on the north curb.
Figure 2 - The knife recovered at the scene.
Physical Evidence The scene produced a dark-bladed, wood-handled knife, with an overall length of 20 centimetres. The blade measured 8.5 centimetres. The knife was of a type commonly referred to as a, “flick knife,” designed to be opened with one hand. An examination of the knife determined its surfaces were unsuitable for fingerprint enhancement.
The Complainant’s clothing included a black coat with defects located at its left pocket area, mid back - right of centre, and lower back - centre. Jeans with two defects on the front left leg. A sweater with defects at the left front, left side, and mid back - right of centre. The sweater held a bullet jacket fragment removed from the left front defect. A white T-shirt with two defects at the torso. The T-shirt was badly cut by EMS and impossible to properly place the position of the defects. Black nylon pants with defects of unknown placement for the same reason as the T-shirt. Partial pieces of a white sleeveless undershirt with a defect mid back. A second partial piece of that same undershirt with no defects, underwear with no defects, and socks with no defects.
Additional scene evidence collected included six spent cartridge casings found when the scene was processed.
The police firearms, their magazines and ammunition were collected from NRPS members at an NRPS facility:
SO #2’s service issued firearm was a Glock Model 22, .40 Calibre, semi-automatic pistol. The magazine extracted from that pistol was loaded with 11 live cartridges. One live cartridge was collected from the pistol’s breech. 
Figure 3 - SO #2's firearm.
SO #1’s service issued firearm was a Glock Model 22, .40 Calibre, semi-automatic pistol. The magazine extracted from that pistol was loaded with 11 live cartridges. One live cartridge was collected from the pistol’s breech. 
Figure 4 - SO #1's firearm.
Forensic Evidence Delivered on January 5, 2021, the Centre of Forensic Sciences (CFS) accepted the six cartridge cases recovered from the scene for analysis, and both SO #1 and SO #2’s pistols and ammunition for appropriate comparisons. The firearms were also to be tested for general mechanical and function safety, as per their design.
The Complainant’s overcoat and jeans were accepted for Firearm Discharge Residue (FDR) testing with the understanding that if FDR was present, tests would be made to determine shot distances.
The CFS test results were not completed and therefore not available for consideration at the time this report was written.
Video/Audio/Photographic EvidenceThe SIU searched for and/or obtained audio, video and/or photographic records of relevance, as set out below.
NRPS Communication Recordings and Computer-Assisted Dispatch (CAD) ReportThe recordings beginning on December 25, 2020, at 1:42 a.m., captured one hour and 26 minutes of communication between police officers during the search for the Complainant, and the communications centre. The CAD report, created at 1:24:20 a.m., began with the report from the HPS that the Complainant had been involved in a domestic incident with his parents, during which he struck them, and fled, having told them he was going to kill himself. The Complainant had a cellular telephone HPS had been able to track with the assistance of the cellular provider.
At 1:43:00 a.m., WO #1 and an undesignated officer were dispatched to an address in St. Catherines for an, “assist other agency,” call to locate the Complainant. They were told the Complainant was suicidal and HPS had made attempts to stop his vehicle in their jurisdiction but the Complainant did not yield to their attempts and they did not initiate a pursuit. They were told his cellular telephone was being tracked and he may be armed with a knife; and, he was anti-police and had nothing to lose. He tried to break into a Shoppers Drug Mart, in Hamilton, but did not gain entry. A welfare check was requested and his last known location, on the QEW, was given.
At 1:45:45 a.m., WO #4 broadcasted that based on the information supplied from HPS he believed the interest in the Complainant was criminal in nature and not mental health related. He said there were no grounds to pursue the vehicle until details from HPS were clarified in a CPIC message.
At 1:50:03 a.m., the communications dispatcher updated WO #4 via the HPS that the Complainant had [a mental health disorder], was off his medications, said he was going to kill himself, had a history of attempted suicide, had a knife, and had been texting a friend threatening suicide.
At 1:53:00 a.m., the communications dispatcher told WO #4 that a ‘ping’ of the Complainant’s telephone placed him at a Shoppers Drug Mart, in Grimsby. The check at the Complainant’s residence was cancelled and police officers were dispatched to Grimsby.
At 1:58:30 a.m., the police officers dispatched to Grimsby, four officers including WO #2, were given what information the dispatch centre had and warned about the Complainant’s state of mind. A “glass break alarm,” was received from Shoppers Drug Mart and the results of a CPIC and Records Management System (RMS) query of the Complainant informing the police officers the Complainant had no warrants but had several ‘hits’ on the RMS system was broadcasted.
At 2:01:42 a.m., the dispatcher told WO #4 that the Complainant was armed with a knife and had fought with the police in the past. He had, earlier, refused to stop for HPS police officers.
At 2:02:42 a.m., the dispatcher broadcasted that HPS and the family had an open telephone line with the Complainant. He told them he had consumed some sort of sedative, had stolen from the Shoppers Drug Mart, and was headed home. Arrangements were made to have police officers waiting at his address.
At 2:06:00 a.m., police officers who went to the Shoppers Drug Mart and confirmed there had been an entry made to the business, but no vehicles remained. A vehicle was seen driving at a high rate of speed toward the QEW and Bartlett Road. A location check of the Complainant’s telephone put it on the QEW where other police officers had seen it, Hamilton bound. The HPS and Ontario Provincial Police were notified.
At 2:11:00 a.m., the Complainant’s telephone was on Ontario Street, Beamsville, and police officers moved to that area.
At 2:16:00 a.m., a sergeant broadcasted that the Complainant’s vehicle was not to be pursued. His last known location was in the area of the Rexall pharmacy, on Ontario Street, in Beamsville.
At 2:25:00 a.m., an undesignated officer broadcasted that he had spotted the Complainant eastbound on King Street, at Maplegrove Road, Beamsville. WO #4 directed he not turn on his emergency lights but maintain visual contact while a plan was developed.
At 2:33 a.m., the communications dispatcher updated the Complainant’s location as eastbound, on King Street, at Nineteenth Avenue, Jordan.
At 2:38 a.m., the communications dispatcher broadcasted that, through HPS, the Complainant was believed to have pulled over and stopped. His cellular telephone indicated he was on McKenzie Drive, south of King Street. WO #5 followed the Complainant as he travelled northbound, then east, on King Street. The NRPS duty officer ordered the Complainant was not to be pursued.
At 2:42 a.m., WO #4 asked permission to deploy stop sticks east of the Complainant’s location and WO #1 was tasked with that action. WO #4 detailed a unit to come from behind the Complainant if he passed him, but not to stop him.
At 2:45 a.m., SO #1 and WO #3 broadcasted that the Complainant, alone in his vehicle, passed them and was approaching WO #4’s location. Information was broadcasted that the Complainant passed over the stop sticks and that caused him to slow to 60 km/h and affected his ability to properly steer his vehicle. WO #4 was 100 metres behind the Complainant.
At 2:48 a.m., WO #4 broadcasted that the Complainant’s vehicle had come to a stop just east of Vansickle Road, on St. Paul Street West. WO #4 was going to wait for other police officers to arrive before he exited his vehicle. At 2:48:15 a.m., WO #4 broadcasted, “He is out of the car.” The dispatcher reminded WO #4 that the Complainant had a knife and WO #4 responded that the Complainant was screaming at him. SO #1 and WO #3 broadcasted they were approaching WO #4.
At 2:48:35 a.m., SO #2 arrived to assist WO #4 who, at 2:48:40 a.m., broadcasted, “Yeah, he wants to fight guys.” Six seconds later, WO #4 broadcasted, “Yeah, he is reaching, he has something out guys.” An unknown voice in the background was heard to say, “Don’t move,” as WO #4 broadcasted, “Shots fired communications dispatcher, shots fired. Communications dispatcher, copy? Shots fired.” Voices spoke at a normal volume in the background as WO #4 broadcasted, “We’ve got a male, we’ve got him now.” The communications dispatcher asked, “who’ve got him now WO #4?” WO #4 responded, “Yeah we do.” The communications dispatcher asked, “Do you need a [ambulance] there?” And WO #4 replied, “Absolutely.” The communications dispatcher asked, “Anyone injured?” WO #4 replied, “Yeah I believe he had been hit a couple of times SO #1 and WO #3 broadcasted, “We’ve got him in cuffs here. We need a [ambulance] here, artery bleed in the left femur, have the [ambulance] step it up. Tourniquet is applied.” WO #4 broadcasted, “He is losing a lot of blood.”
At 2:52 a.m., an undesignated officer arrived and set up a wide perimeter.
The ambulance arrived at 2:55 a.m., and left, with the Complainant on board, at 3:01 a.m.
Video RecordingsThe SIU received three pieces of video collected by NRPS, on January 11, 2021. One of those pieces included audio. They captured events recorded at three locations on December 25, 2020:
Strada Boulevard, St. Catharines
A home located near the scene. The home was equipped with an audio/video surveillance system. Because of the location of the home in question, there was no visual record of the events. There was, however, audio of the incident.
The footage was unremarkable until 2:49:14 a.m., when two (presumed) gun shots were heard. At 2:49:19 a.m., four more (presumed) gun shots were heard. At 2:53:04 a.m., the flashing lights associated with an emergency vehicle were evident to the right of the camera’s view, towards St. Paul Street West.
St. Paul Street West, St. Catharines A commercial business at the scene. The surveillance system associated to the property offered no audio component nor did it capture the shooting. It did show the Complainant as he drove his vehicle past the property, followed by NRPS members, his vehicle’s tires having already been disabled by stop sticks, mere moments before the shooting. The camera’s view captured a parking lot and St. Paul Street West.
At 2:48:05 a.m., the Complainant’s vehicle drove into and through the camera’s view. At 2:48:08 a.m., WO #4’s police vehicle followed. No emergency vehicle lights were activated on the police vehicle. At 2:49:02 a.m., four more police vehicles through the camera’s view all with their emergency vehicle lights activated.
St. Andrew Avenue, Grimsby, Shoppers Drug MartThis video had no audio component. It captured the Complainant’s actions in the store after he broke into and entered it between approximately 1:50:03 a.m. and 1:54:35 a.m.
Materials Obtained from Police Service The SIU obtained the following records from the NRPS on January 11, 2021:
- Notes of SO #1, WO #2 and WO #5;
- CAD report;
- NRPS Disclosure Letter-2021-01-11;
- NRPS Incident File;
- NRPS Mobile Data Terminal -Officer Activity;
- NRPS Training Summary – SO #1 and SO #2;
- Communication recordings;
- NRPS-General Orders-Suspect Apprehension Pursuits and Use of Force; and
- Canadian Firearm Program records.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from non-police entities:
- Home surveillance video; and
- Business surveillance video.
NRPS officers were dispatched to locate the Complainant. As the Complainant was talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend, the CW, they were able to track his movement as he drove toward St. Catharines. Officers also attended at a pharmacy the Complainant had reportedly broken into and were able to confirm the break and enter, and a theft of narcotics. The information was broadcasted via police radio to NRPS officers.
As officers positioned themselves to locate and track the Complainant’s vehicle, they were also advised by their communications centre that the Complainant was afflicted with a mental health disorder, hated the police, and potentially had with him a knife. It was further noted that HPS officers had attempted to stop him in their jurisdiction, but had chosen not to pursue the Complainant when he failed to pull over. It was decided that NRPS officers would, similarly, avoid engaging in a pursuit with the Complainant.
At about 2:30 a.m., the police were able to discern that the Complainant was on King Street traveling east toward St. Catharines. WO #4, among the officers on the lookout for the Complainant, sought and received permission to deploy a stop stick across the roadway. The device was deployed by WO #1 across St. Paul Street West (King Street becomes St. Paul Street West) just west of Third Street Louth. The Complainant’s vehicle drove over the stop stick at about 2:45 a.m., puncturing his tires.
WO #4 pulled onto St. Paul Street West behind the Complainant and followed the vehicle from a distance of about 100 metres. Just east of Vansickle Road, the Complainant’s hobbled vehicle came to a stop in the eastbound lane. WO #4 brought his cruiser to a stop two to three car lengths behind the Complainant’s vehicle and activated his rear emergency lights.
The Complainant quickly exited his vehicle and confronted WO #4. He was irate and yelled at the officer, still seated in his cruiser. With his window rolled down slightly, WO #4 attempted to calm the Complainant, indicating that the police were there to help him. The Complainant could not be appeased.
About a minute after WO #4 came to a stop, he was joined by SO #2, alone in his cruiser, and SO #1 and WO #3, together in their vehicle. The former approached traveling north on Vansickle Road, turning right onto St. Paul Street West and bringing his cruiser to a stop in the westbound lane beside and just north of WO #4’s vehicle. SO #1, approaching from the west on St. Paul Street West, brought his cruiser to a stop slightly behind and to the south of WO #4’s vehicle.
SO #2 was the first officer out of his cruiser. Standing by his driver’s side door, it was SO #2’s intention to speak with the Complainant to de-escalate the situation. The Complainant remained extremely agitated. He reached into a coat pocket, retrieved a flick knife and charged in SO #2’s direction. The officer drew his firearm and fired twice at the Complainant. The Complainant grabbed his stomach and fell forward, his momentum bringing him with a metre of SO #2.
SO #2 maneuvered to a position behind his cruiser, his firearm still trained on the Complainant, as the Complainant got to his feet and began to again advance on the officer. The knife was still in his right hand. SO #1 had by now exited his cruiser and joined SO #2 behind SO #2’s cruiser, his firearm also pointed at the Complainant. Each officer fired their weapons twice. The Complainant collapsed, the knife falling from his hand. The time was about 2:49 a.m.
WO #3 approached the Complainant on the ground and kicked the knife further away. Eventually recovered by the SIU at the scene, the knife had a blade eight centimetres in length.
The officers on scene provided first aid to the Complainant after the shooting. He was losing blood from what appeared to be a gunshot wound of the upper left leg. Two tourniquets were applied, which stemmed the bleeding.
Paramedics arrived on scene and took over the Complainant’s care. He was transported to hospital and treated for his injuries. As the Complainant did not authorize the release of his medical records, it is unknown with any certainty exactly how many gunshot wounds he sustained or the nature and extent of his injuries.
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
Section 34 of the Criminal Code provides that conduct intended to protect oneself or another from a reasonably apprehended attack, actual or threatened, is legally justified if it is reasonable in all the circumstances. In determining whether the conduct is reasonable, the section sets out a non-exhaustive list of considerations, such as: 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. There is insufficient evidence, in my view, to reasonably conclude that the discharge by SO #1 and SO #2 of their firearms does not attract the protection of section 34.
At the outset, it bears noting that both subject officers were in the lawful discharge of their duties when they approached the scene – St. Paul Street West just east of Vansickle Road. They had good cause to believe that the Complainant was labouring under mental distress and suicidal. They would also have been aware that the Complainant had broken into a pharmacy in Grimsby and stolen drugs, a fact supported by officers who attended the business, and cell phone tracking data that placed the Complainant at that location. In the circumstances, there were grounds to apprehend the Complainant under section 17 of the Mental Health Act and for the criminal offence of break and enter.
SO #2 says that he fired his two volleys of shots fearing his life to be in danger. There is no reason to disbelieve him. In fact, the objective circumstances prevailing at the time, discussed below, lend credence to his assertion. Simply put, confronted with an individual brandishing a knife and advancing in his direction, the officer would have had good reason to believe his life was at risk.
While SO #1 did not interview with the SIU, as was his legal right, his notes indicate that he too fired believing it was necessary to protect SO #2 from a knife attack. Though notes, untested by questions and answers, must be accorded less weight than information provided at interview, I am unable to dismiss SO #1’s reported mindset at the time. Again, the circumstances were such as to strongly suggest SO #1 acted to protect his colleague.
The discharge by SO #1 and SO #2 of their weapons, in my view, constituted reasonable force against a legitimate risk of danger to life and limb. The Complainant had armed himself with a knife – a weapon capable of inflicting serious harm and death. With the knife in hand, he ran in SO #2’s direction in a fashion that could only be interpreted as motivated by a malice aforethought. When he neared to within a few metres of SO #2, within striking range, the officer had little option but to take action to repel an imminent attack. Withdrawal was not an option realistically available to SO #2. It was mere seconds from the moment he stepped out his cruiser that the Complainant drew his knife and charged at him. And the roadway, slippery with snow, would have made retreat a dicey proposition. On this record, I am not satisfied that SO #2 acted unreasonably when he resorted to lethal force to repel a lethal attack.
The same may be said of the second volley of gunfire in which SO #1 and SO #2 each discharged their guns twice. By this time, the Complainant had picked himself up off the ground and had resumed his advance on SO #2, now positioned to the rear of his cruiser. The knife was still in the Complainant’s hand. Exactly five seconds had elapsed from the first two shots, testament to the speed with which events unfolded. During that brief time period, the Complainant was told to drop his weapon, but failed to do so. As he again neared to within a few metres of SO #2, he was again met with gunfire, this time by SO #1 as well. It is apparent on this record that the Complainant was intent on doing serious harm to SO #2, and that the officers acted reasonably to deter a potentially mortal attack.
In the result, as I am satisfied for the foregoing reasons that SO #1 and SO #2 acted within the limits of section 34 of the Criminal Code, using only reasonable force to protect against a clear and present danger to SO #2’s life, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case. The file is closed.
Date: April 22, 2021
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) The firearm was capable of holding a maximum of 16 rounds: one in the breech and 15 in the magazine. [Back to text]
- 2) Ibid. [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.