SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OCD-296


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Mandate of the SIU

The Special Investigations Unit is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving an official where there has been death, serious injury, the discharge of a firearm at a person or an allegation of sexual assault. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019 (SIU Act), officials are defined as police officers, special constables of the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers under the Legislative Assembly Act. The SIU’s jurisdiction covers more than 50 municipal, regional and provincial police services across Ontario.

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.

Information Restrictions

Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019

Pursuant 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 Act

Pursuant 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, 2004

Pursuant to this legislation, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.

Other proceedings, processes, and investigations

Information 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.

Mandate Engaged

Pursuant to section 15 of the SIU Act, the SIU may investigate the conduct of officials, be they police officers, special constables of the Niagara Parks Commission or peace officers under the Legislative Assembly Act, that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault or the discharge of a firearm at a person.

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 the death of a 48-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On September 7, 2021, at 9:54 p.m., the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) notified the SIU of the Complainant’s death.

The OPS advised that on September 7, 2021, at 12:13 p.m., OPS police officers responded to the rural area near Andrewsville, west of Ottawa, for a suicidal man. The OPS had received a telephone call from the Complainant’s girlfriend, Civilian Witness (CW) #1, stating that the Complainant was planning to commit suicide and was most likely at his hunting camp.

The Complainant had a history of mental health issues and had attempted or discussed suicide the previous year. The Complainant was the owner of a long gun.

The Complainant’s vehicle was located, with the keys in the vehicle, near his camp. OPS brought in their tactical unit (TU), a robot, an armoured vehicle, drones, and paramedics.

The Complainant was in the woods around 5:00 p.m. At 5:43 p.m., a tactical negotiator made contact with him. He had rigged a long gun to discharge into his chest. At 8:16 p.m., a gunshot was heard. The TU police officers approached and found him with a gunshot wound to his chest.

Tactical paramedics confirmed that the Complainant was vital signs absent (VSA), but the hospital in contact requested that he be transported to Ottawa Civic Hospital (OCH) to be pronounced.

The Team

Date and time team dispatched: 09/07/2021 at 11:06 p.m.

Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 09/08/2021 at 12:05 a.m.

Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 3
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1

Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):

48-year-old male, deceased

Civilian Witnesses

CW #1 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)
CW #2 Not interviewed (Next-of-kin)

Subject Officials

SO Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right

Witness Officials

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Interviewed
WO #4 Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed

The witness officials were interviewed between September 10, 2021 and October 4, 2021.


The Scene

An SIU forensic investigator attended the scene at 1:08 a.m., on September 8, 2021. It was dark and the weather conditions were overcast with light rain. The temperature was about 18 degrees Celsius.

It was extremely dark at the scene, with no streetlights in the area. Lighting was provided by portable lights and a generator.

There were several OPS police vehicles, a camping trailer, a GMC pickup, and an OPS TU vehicle present. The clearing had some sporadic brush and trees, with a dense brush and treed area to the north. Beyond the treed area, 50 metres to the north, was a rural road, which was not visible. 6.7 metres in front of the tactical vehicle was a knocked over plastic lawn chair and a shotgun, along with a cigarette package, cigarette butts, a Gatorade bottle, and a ball cap. There was bloodstaining (pooling) on the chair, and immediately in front of the chair.

When police found the Complainant, he was reported to have a fatal shotgun wound to his chest. His body had been removed and taken to the OCH.

The scene was photographed with flash and available light.

A 12-gauge H&R Arms Model 48 Topper, single shot break action, with a spent Winchester 12-gauge “Heavy Game” shot shell, in the breech, was collected.

Figure 1 - The shotgun located at the scene.

The shotgun lay on the ground, with the break action not open; it was 1.2 metres from the front of the chair. If one sat on the chair, the barrel of the shotgun pointed to the left, or east and the stock of the shotgun pointed to the right, or west. The shotgun’s overall measurements were: 115.5 centimetres long, 76 centimetre barrel, and 79.3 centimetres from the end of the barrel to the trigger. There was no rope or mechanism attached to the shotgun so that it could be fired remotely.

Located in the centre console of the truck was an unfired .243 rifle bullet and an unfired 12-gauge shotgun shell.

The scene was also photographed, and video recorded in daylight.

The shotgun and ammunition, as well as a wallet and cellular telephone, were collected, sealed, and stored.

Forensic Evidence

Post-Mortem Examination

On September 9, 2021, at 9:10 a.m., an SIU forensic investigator attended the Ottawa General Hospital and met with the Forensic Pathologist assigned to perform the post-mortem examination. At 9:20 a.m., the autopsy started, and X-rays were taken of the chest area. The body was photographed as directed. At 10:20 a.m., the autopsy concluded. The preliminary autopsy findings indicated that the death was attributable to, “Shotgun wound of the chest.”

The Forensic Pathologist advised that it was possible for a person of the Complainant’s height to bend over and fire a long gun into their own chest.

Communication and Negotiation Report

The initial call for a suicidal man, the Complainant, was received at 12:12 p.m. CW #1 indicated that the Complainant had attempted suicide the previous year. At that time, he had attended his hunting camp armed with a firearm and the police had been involved.

On this date, CW #1 reported that the Complainant had left her an envelope with cash. According to CW #1, the Complainant had been distraught of late concerning a custody battle with his ex-wife. CW #1 had driven to the hunting camp where she located the Complainant’s truck. The Complainant’s wallet and cellular telephone were on the hood of the truck. CW #1 confirmed that the Complainant had a firearm, however, she was unable to describe the type of firearm.

The negotiation recordings, which included approximately three hours of audio, revealed that the Complainant had engaged in conversation with WO #1. The Complainant seemed to be calm and willing to converse, save when he spoke of the custody battle with his ex-wife and the pending trial for an impaired driving charge, at which times the Complainant’s voice and demeanour became elevated. He requested a jacket and some cigarettes, which were delivered to him via a robot at 7:12 p.m. The Complainant also requested his cellular telephone; however, that was not provided to him because of a concern that he might attempt to contact his ex-wife.

There appeared to be progress towards a surrender plan in which the Complainant was willing to put down the firearm and give himself over to the SO. A short period after the SO began to converse with the Complainant, however, a single gunshot could be heard, at 9:16 p.m. The Complainant had discharged his firearm causing a fatal wound to his chest.

Materials Obtained from Police Service

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the OPS:
  • Computer-Assisted Dispatch Call Hardcopy;
  • List of First Responder Witnesses;
  • List of Involved Officers;
  • Narrative of WOs;
  • Notes of WOs;
  • 911 Call;
  • Negotiation Recording;
  • Radio Communications;
  • Scene Photos;
  • Sudden Death Details;
  • Person Hardcopy-the Complainant (x2);
  • Policy-Mental Health Incidents;
  • Canadian Firearm Program Documents; and
  • Training Record-the SO.

Incident Narrative

The following scenario emerges from the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with police officers present at the time of the events in question and a review of audio recordings that captured hours’ worth of negotiations with the Complainant. As was his legal right, the SO chose not to interview with the SIU or authorize the release of his notes.

At about 12:12 p.m. of September 7, 2021, the OPS received a 911 call from CW #1, the Complainant’s partner, calling to report that the Complainant might have killed himself. CW #1 explained that the Complainant had left that morning leaving her an envelope full of cash, and that he had not arrived at his workplace. As the Complainant had previously attempted suicide with a firearm at his hunting camp, CW #1 had been to the location and found the Complainant’s pickup truck. The Complainant was not there, but CW #1 had found his wallet and cell phone on the vehicle. Though unable to describe it, CW #1 confirmed that the Complainant had a firearm.

OPS personnel and equipment were brought to the scene to assist in locating the Complainant. This included a tactical team of officers, trained crisis negotiators, aerial surveillance, a robot, a police dog, and an armoured vehicle. The area in and around the Complainant’s hunting camp was searched, including a trailer on the property and a pickup truck. At about 5:45 p.m., the Complainant was located in a brush and treed area north of the trailer. He was holding a shotgun.

A member of the tactical team, WO #4, had found the Complainant. The officer asked the Complainant to put his weapon down. The Complainant replied that he would not. Another tactical officer – WO #5 – quickly joined WO #4 and took the lead in speaking with the Complainant. The officer was at it for about 30 to 40 minutes before the crisis negotiators – WO #1 and WO #3 - arrived on scene and took charge of the negotiations. By that time, the armoured vehicle had been positioned a few metres south of the Complainant’s location. From a position of cover behind the armoured vehicle, the officers engaged the Complainant in conversation.

Over the course of the next three hours or so, the negotiators attempted to persuade the Complainant to surrender himself peacefully. The Complainant spoke calmly for the most part, except when the subject of an ongoing custody battle involving his young son was raised. At his request, cigarettes and a jacket were provided to the Complainant via a robot. As the negotiations progressed and it appeared that the Complainant had become receptive to a peaceful resolution of the stand-off, the SO was introduced to the Complainant as the officer who would arrange the surrender process. Not long thereafter, at about 9:16 p.m., a gunshot was heard. The Complainant had shot himself with his shotgun.

Officers attended at the Complainant’s location and found him lying on his back in the chair in which he had been sitting during the negotiations. In front of the chair was the shotgun. The Complainant had sustained a devastating chest wound. Paramedics were sent in to treat the Complainant.

The Complainant was transported to hospital where he was pronounced deceased at 10:28 p.m.

Relevant Legislation

Section 219, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing death

219 (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
(a) in doing anything, or
(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.

(2) For the purposes of this section, duty means a duty imposed by law.

Section 220, Criminal Code -- Criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm

220 Every person who by criminal negligence causes death to another person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable
(a) where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.

Analysis and Director's Decision

On September 7, 2021, the Complainant died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. As he was surrounded by OPS officers at the time, the SIU was notified and initiated an investigation. One of the involved officers – the SO – was identified as the subject official. The investigation is now concluded. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the SO, or any of the OPS officers, committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s death.

The offence that arises for consideration is criminal negligence causing death contrary to section 220 of the Criminal Code. The offence is reserved for serious cases of neglect demonstrating a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons. Simple negligence will not suffice to ground liability. Rather, what is required, in part, is a marked and substantial departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have observed in the circumstances. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was a want of care on the part of any of the officers involved in the police operation on the day in question that contributed to the Complainant’s death and was sufficiently egregious to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.

The officers who responded to the area of the Complainant’s hunting camp were in the execution of their duties and lawfully placed throughout the events in question. An officer’s foremost duty is the protection and preservation of life. Having been apprised by CW #1 of her concerns regarding the Complainant, the officers were duty bound in doing what they could to prevent harm from coming to the Complainant.

Once on scene, I am further satisfied that the officers comported themselves with due care and regard for the Complainant’s well-being. It would appear that adequate resources were deployed to the scene and effectively utilized to locate the Complainant – aerial surveillance, a dog team, tactical officers – and attempt to reach a peaceful resolution – armoured vehicle, robot, crisis negotiators. Less lethal weapons were available to be used, such as an ARWEN, but the opportunity to deploy them did not present itself given the environment in which the officers were operating. Nor does it appear that storming the Complainant was ever a realistic option given his possession of a firearm. As for the negotiations themselves, there is nothing in the record to suggest any indiscretions or obvious misjudgments on the part of the negotiators. On this record, though the officers were unable to prevent the Complainant taking his own life, it was not for any want of reasonable efforts on their part.

For the foregoing reasons, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any of the involved OPS officers, including the SO, transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.

Date: January 5, 2022

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
Special Investigations Unit


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.