SIU Director’s Report - Case # 21-OFI-311
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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.
- 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 the death of a 19-year-old man (the “Complainant”) during an interaction with police.
Notification of the SIUOn September 19, 2021, at 5:01 a.m., the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service (SSMPS) notified the SIU of the Complainant’s death.
According to SSMPS, on September 19, 2021, at 3:41 a.m., the SSMPS received a call regarding a man [now known to be the Complainant] threatening to shoot a woman [now known to be Civilian Witness (CW) #1]. Subject Official (SO) #2 and Witness Official (WO) #7 responded to the area of 700 Pine Street, Sault Ste. Marie. At 4:04 a.m., a police officer broadcasted over the police radio that a police officer was down and that shots had been fired.
SSMPS further reported that the Complainant was deceased at the scene, and that WO #7 had been shot in the leg and taken to hospital.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 09/19/2021 at 6:08 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 09/19/2021 at 2:30 p.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 4
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators (FIs) assigned: 3
SIU investigators interviewed civilian and police witnesses, canvassed for additional witnesses, and searched for closed-circuit television (CCTV) data in the area where the incident occurred.
SIU Forensic Investigators took digital photographs, made drawings of the scene, and collected exhibits relevant to the incident.
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):19-year-old male, deceased
Civilian WitnessesCW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Interviewed
CW #3 Interviewed
CW #4 Interviewed
CW #5 Interviewed
CW #6 Interviewed
CW #7 Interviewed
CW #8 Interviewed
The civilian witnesses were interviewed between September 19 and 20, 2021.
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.
The subject official was interviewed on October 21, 2021.
Witness OfficialsWO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Notes reviewed; interview deemed not necessary
WO #3 Notes reviewed; interview deemed not necessary
WO # Interviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed
WO #7 Notes reviewed; interview deemed not necessary
WO #8 Notes reviewed; interview deemed not necessary
WO #9 Interviewed
The witness officials were interviewed between September 20 and 21, 2021.
The SceneOn September 19, 2021, at 5:55 a.m., SIU FIs were requested to attend the incident scene. They arrived the same day at 4:32 p.m., and found the scene secured by numerous members of the SSMPS. The weather was windy and cool, the roads were dry, and the area was cordoned off with police tape.
Pine Street had a north/south bearing with one lane for northbound traffic, one turn lane, and two southbound lanes. The roadway was paved with raised concrete curbs. There were overhead streetlights on the east side of the roadway.
There was a triad of three-storey apartment buildings on the east side of the roadway. 700 Pine Street, the furthest north of the three buildings, faced 690 Pine Street, the most southerly of the three buildings, with 696 Pine Street between them facing west toward Pine Street. There was a semi-circular, paved driveway providing access to the front of each apartment building. The driveway extended around 696 Pine Street facilitating vehicular circumnavigation and access to parking spaces at the east, north and south sides of 696 Pine Street
There were areas of grass to the west of 690 and 700 Pine Street between the structures and the east curb of Pine Street, and an area of grass in front 696 Pine Street severed by the semi-circular driveway. Located on this grass area were an outdoor table and chairs.
A tent had been erected by SSMPS on the lawn west of 700 Pine Street covering exhibits, and the location where the Complainant had died.
There was a Food Basics shopping plaza/parking lot on the west side of the roadway.
Four SSMPS vehicles, including an Emergency Services Unit armoured vehicle, were inside the scene.
Numerous 40 calibre cartridge cases were visible around the back and left side of SO #1 and WO #1’s SSMPS Ford F150 pickup truck on Pine Street, oriented in a southeast direction. There was a 40 calibre magazine located on top and at the right rear corner of the vehicle’s tonneau cover. A similar SSMPS Ford F150 pickup truck [now known to be SO #2 and WO #7’s vehicle] was oriented in a northwest direction in the driveway west of the front of 696 Pine Street and north of the north side of 690 Pine Street. There was a pool of blood on the driveway to the south of the left rear corner of SO #2 and WO #7’s vehicle. One 40 calibre cartridge case was located behind the vehicle.
Also in the scene were a cargo van oriented in a northwest direction on the driveway and west of 696 Pine Street with two 40 calibre cartridge cases behind it, and a motorcycle oriented in a westerly direction on the north side of the driveway west of 700 Pine Street. Numerous brass, 22 calibre cartridge cases were located on the driveway near the motorcycle, as were passive blood stains on the driveway.
Under the tent erected by the SSMPS on the lawn associated with 700 Pine Street was an area of bloodstaining. A cover protected a silver-coloured, Ruger handgun and a pair of scissors. The Ruger handgun, a Mark II Target 22 calibre stainless steel, semi-automatic handgun was examined by an SIU FI and was found to have had its serial number removed prior to the incident.
Numerous bullet strikes were located during the investigation. One bullet strike was located to the west, meaning, street-facing side, of 700 Pine Street. One bullet strike was located to the west, meaning street-facing side, of 696 Pine Street. Eight bullet strikes were located on the north, meaning driveway-facing side, of 690 Pine Street. One bullet strike was located on the west aspect of 41 Princess Street, meaning the apartment building behind/east of 696 Pine Street. One bullet strike was located on the west aspect of the dumpster in the rear east corner of the triad of apartment buildings forming 690, 696 and 700 Pine Street. One bullet strike was located on the west aspect of a telephone cable box west of the dumpster, between 696 and 700 Pine Street.
Physical EvidenceThe SIU collected physical items of evidence, including 16 silver WIN .40 calibre cartridge cases, eight brass .22 calibre cartridge cases, a twisted lead and copper bullet fragment, a Ruger .22 calibre firearm with a .22 calibre cartridge in the breech and magazine, scissors, a Smith and Wesson .40 calibre magazine containing two WIN .40 calibre cartridges, blood swabs, six lead bullet core fragments, two copper and lead bullet fragment, a twisted lead piece bullet core fragment, larger lead piece bullet core fragment, two Smith and Wesson .40 calibre firearms with magazines, WO #7’s uniform, biological samples from the Complainant, three bullet fragments from the Complainant’s body, magazine for a .22 calibre pistol with six cartridges, single .22 calibre cartridge, cash, small bag with crumbs (possibly drugs), rocks, the Complainant’s clothing and jewelry, and a lighter.
FirearmsSO #2’s Smith and Wesson semi-automatic firearm was recovered with one round in the chamber and 11 in the magazine. The two spare magazines recovered from his duty belt each contained 15 rounds.
SO #1’s Smith and Wesson semi-automatic firearm was recovered with one round in the chamber and 15 in the magazine. A magazine associated with SO #1’s gun was recovered at the scene with two rounds. A single spare magazine recovered from his duty belt contained 15 rounds.
The Complainant’s Ruger semi-automatic firearm was recovered at the scene with one round in the chamber and an empty magazine.
Figure 1: A photo of the Complainant’s Ruger
Centre of Forensic Sciences (CFS) SubmissionsOn October 13, 2021, the following exhibits were submitted to the CFS:
- All 24 cartridge cases;
- All 11 bullets or bullet fragments from the scene;
- All 3 bullet fragments from the postmortem;
- The Ruger handgun;
- Two Smith and Wesson SSMPS handguns issued to SO #1 and SO #2;
- WO #7’s uniform pants;
- The Complainant’s grey hoody; and
- The Complainant’s jeans;
The results of CFS analyses of the exhibits were not available at the date of this report.
Video/Audio/Photographic EvidenceThe audio, video and photographic evidence obtained from the civilian sources, except for the video obtained from Civilian #1, was of limited probative value in that the records were made after the incident had transpired. In the case of the Shell gas station at the intersection of Pine and McNabb Streets, the video only depicted the arrival of SO #2 and WO #7’s vehicle several minutes before the incident occurred.
Video from Civilian #1Civilian #1 declined to be interviewed.
At the start of the video, an agitated Civilian #1 said that the SSMPS had just arrived. Civilian #1 had heard a rapid succession of gunshots, and SSMPS officers say, “Officer down, shots fired, semi-automatic firearm.” Two SSMPS vehicles with their emergency lights activated were parked on Pine Street. Two SSMPS officers ran toward a grassy area by the west-facing wall of 700 Pine Street. They stopped briefly at the edge of the grassy area and crossed to the west side of Pine Street. Shortly thereafter, an ambulance arrived, and the video recording ended.
Communications Audio RecordingsNo police communications recordings were available. At the time of the incident, the SSMPS communications centre, including its 911 call recording systems, had been the subject of a ransomware attack that rendered its communications recording systems inoperable; hence, there were no communications audio recordings and 911 call recordings available. The SSMPS had since the incident replaced its compromised recording systems software.
Materials Obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU received the following materials from SSMPS between September 19, 2021 and October 21, 2021:
- Annual Pistol Qualification - SO #2;
- Annual Use of Force Qualification - WO #1;
- Annual Use of Force Qualification - SO #1;
- Annual Use of Force Qualification - SO #2;
- Annual Use of Force Qualification - WO #7;
- Armourer Information;
- Conducted Energy Weapon Requalification - SO #2;
- Letter from SSMPS Regarding Disclosure of Video;
- Event Chronology;
- General Incident Report;
- Letter from SSMPS Regarding SIU Disclosure Requests;
- Next of Kin – Contact Information;
- Notes - WO #1;
- Notes - SO #1;
- Notes - WO #2;
- Notes - WO #3;
- Notes - WO #4;
- Notes - WO #5;
- Notes - WO #6;
- Notes - WO #7;
- Notes - WO #8;
- Notes - WO #9;
- Scene Photographs;
- Security Camera Footage;
- Involved Officers List;
- Incident List;
- Uniform Deployment;
- Use of Force Policy;
- Video Interview Statement - CW #2;
- Will-say WO #1;
- Will-say WO #2;
- Will-say WO #3;
- Will-say WO #4;
- Will-say WO #5;
- Will-say WO #6;
- Will-say WO #7;
- Will-say WO #8;
- Will-say WO #9; and
- Workplace Safety Insurance Board Form – redacted.
Materials Obtained from Other SourcesThe SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from other sources:
- Ambulance Call Report/Incident Report;
- CCTV Data from the Shell Gas Station at 400 McNabb Street;
- Photographs from Soo Media;
- Photographs and Cellular Telephone Video from CW #8;
- Preliminary Autopsy Findings Report by the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service;
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police Fingerprint Sheet;
- Video from Civilian #1; and
- Video from Superior Media.
In the early morning of September 19, 2021, the SSMPS received a 911 call from CW #1. CW #1 and her boyfriend, CW #2, had fled their residence on Pine Street upon receiving word from an acquaintance that the Complainant had just threatened both their lives and was on his way to their apartment. It seems the Complainant was upset with CW #2 over certain designer handbags in CW #2’s possession. The Complainant was reportedly in possession of a firearm, a fact that CW #1 conveyed to the 911 call-taker. Over the course of the next 20 minutes, CW #1 called police a second and third time, on the last occasion indicating that she could then see the Complainant walking along the side of her building. CW #1 was calling at the time from a Food Basics parking lot across the street from their home where she and CW #2 had sought refuge.
SO #2, in the company of WO #7, who was operating their marked police pickup truck, arrived at the scene at about 4:00 a.m. The officers drove onto the semi-circular driveway that serviced the front entrances of a triad of apartment buildings on Pine Street – 690, 696 and 700 (south to north). The officers heard CW #1’s voice from across the street telling them that, “He’s over there, he’s wearing all black,” and proceeded to drive in a clockwise direction around the sides and back of the building at 696 Pine Street. As the officers made their way back onto the semi-circular driveway, coming to a stop by the southwest corner of the building, their truck oriented in a northwest direction, they saw the Complainant. He was standing west and north of their position.
At about the same time, SO #1, in the company of WO #1, were arriving at the scene. SO #1, operating their marked police pickup, parked their vehicle facing southeast on the roadway, across from the building at 696 Pine street. The officers exited their vehicle and drew their firearms as SO #2 and WO #7, who were also outside of their truck at this time, were ordering the Complainant to show his hands.
The Complainant removed a firearm from a front pocket of his hoodie (a Ruger semi-automatic handgun), held it in both hands, and discharged multiple rounds in the direction of SO #2 and WO #7 while backtracking in a northerly direction. One of the Complainant’s shots struck WO #7, who was standing by the driver’s side of his police cruiser at the time, in the left leg. Almost immediately after the Complainant started to fire, SO #2 and SO #1 returned fire, discharging multiple rounds from their weapons.
Following their initial volley of shots, each officer sought cover – SO #2 behind the south wall of the building at 696 Pine Street, and SO #1 by the passenger’s side of his truck. SO #2 looked around the corner of the building, saw that the Complainant was still standing, now on a patch of grass west of the building at 700 Pine Street, and fired another round from his position. The Complainant fell to the ground.
Within moments of falling to the ground, the Complainant raised the gun in his right hand, positioned it against the right side of his head, and shot himself. The time was about 4:04 a.m.
SO #2 went to WO #7 and rendered life-saving treatment, applying a tourniquet to his left leg to stem the bleeding.
Unsure whether the Complainant had been incapacitated, officers on scene began to order him to drop his weapon. They were not sure at the time whether the Complainant was deceased. Tactical officers were called to the scene and, with the use of an armoured vehicle, were able to get close to the Complainant. The gun, still loosely gripped in the Complainant’s right hand, was removed from his possession and placed beside him. Paramedics attended to the Complainant. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:29 a.m.
All told, SO #1 and SO #2 fired a total of 13 and 4 times, respectively. The Complainant appears to have discharged somewhere between 8 and 11 rounds from his firearm.
The Complainant sustained four gunshot wounds as the result of police gunfire: a through-and-through, left-to-right, gunshot injury to the right leg; a left-to-right gunshot injury to the left buttock, which travelled through the buttock, and entered the right buttock before exiting the body; a graze injury to the left hand; and, a left-to-right graze injury to the forehead, which did not penetrate the skull.
The Complainant also suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the right side of the head that penetrated the brain.
Cause of DeathThe pathologist at autopsy was of the preliminary view that the Complainant’s death was attributable to “gunshot wound of head and brain”.
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
Pursuant to section 34 of the Criminal Code, the use of force that would otherwise amount to an offence is legally justified if it was intended to protect against a reasonably apprehended attack, actual or threatened, and was itself reasonable. The reasonableness of the force is to be assessed in light of all the relevant circumstances, including such considerations 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; whether any party to the incident used or threatened to use a weapon; and, the nature and proportionality of the person’s response to the use or threat of force.
At the outset, it should be noted that the officers who engaged with the Complainant in front of the buildings at 690, 696 and 700 Pine Street were lawfully placed throughout the incident. They had been dispatched in response to a 911 call from a resident of the area about an imminent attack by the Complainant, potentially with a gun, on her life and that of her boyfriend. A police officer’s foremost obligation is the protection and preservation of life. In the circumstances, SO #2, WO #7, SO #1 and WO #1 were duty bound to attend the scene to do what they reasonably could to investigate the complaint and protect the public.
It is plain and obvious that SO #2 and SO #1 fired their weapons to thwart an imminent risk of grievous bodily harm or death. The evidence by the civilian witnesses and the officers is clear that the Complainant was the first to fire his gun. He did so in the direction of SO #2 and WO #7, and actually struck WO #7 in the left leg. And he did so multiple times.
It is also apparent that the shots fired by SO #2 and SO #1 were legally justified. The Complainant was shooting in the direction of SO #2 and WO #7 very deliberately. He did so as the officers were on foot approaching him in connection with CW #1’s complaint, and before either of SO #2 or SO #1 could seek cover behind their cruisers or elsewhere. In the circumstances, I am unable to fault the officers for returning fire – SO #2 in defence of his own life and that of WO #7, and SO #1 in defence of those officers’ lives, but also his own and that of WO #1, as he almost certainly would have feared that the Complainant could at any moment have directed gunfire his way. Indeed, it is difficult to see what else the officers could have done to protect themselves in the heat of the moment. Though each officer discharged multiple rounds, the gunfire occurred over mere seconds, during which time the Complainant remained a threat on his feet. That held true for the last shot fired by an officer - SO #2 – as the Complainant, though injured, was on the lawn in front of 700 Pine Street. It was only after that discharge that the Complainant fell to the ground. Seconds later, the Complainant aimed his gun at the right side of his head and fired, inflicting the only lethal gunshot wound he sustained throughout the incident.
For the foregoing reasons, I am satisfied that SO #2 and SO #1 comported themselves lawfully in connection with the exchange of gunfire that preceded the Complainant’s death. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case. The file is closed.
Date: January 17, 2022
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) The following records contain sensitive personal information and are not being released pursuant to section 34(2) of the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019. The material portions of the records are summarized below. [Back to text]
- 2) Derived from the number of spent cartridge cases recovered from the scene associated with his firearm. [Back to text]
- 3) Derived from the documented number of bullet strikes likely caused by shots fired by the Complainant (9), coupled with the rounds that entered WO #7’s left leg (1) and the Complainant’s head (1). [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.