SIU Director’s Report - Case # 22-OCD-056


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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 26-year-old man (the “Complainant”).

The Investigation

Notification of the SIU

On February 23, 2022, at 1:09 a.m., the Brantford Police Service (BPS) notified the SIU of a firearm-related death. The BPS reported that BPS police officers had seen a vehicle associated with an ongoing missing person investigation. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle and it fled. No pursuit was initiated. The vehicle pulled over in the area of Highway 403 and Garden Avenue, and a male and female exited and fled into a field. A police officer searching on foot heard a gunshot and a female scream. The male was located deceased.

The deceased male was identified as the Complainant. A female, the Civilian Witness (CW), was taken into custody.

The Team

Date and time team dispatched: 02/23/2022 at 1:09 a.m.

Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 02/23/2022 at 3:10 a.m.

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

Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):

26-year-old male, deceased

Civilian Witnesses

CW Interviewed

The civilian witness was interviewed on February 28, 2022.

Witness Officials

WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #3 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #4 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #5 Interviewed
WO #6 Interviewed

The witness officials were interviewed between March 9, 2022, and March 29, 2022. After review of their memo book entries, assessment of their involvement in this incident and a consideration of the CW’s evidence, WO #2, WO #3 and WO #4 were not interviewed as it appeared they had no evidence to further the investigation.


The Scene

This incident occurred around Highway 403 and Garden Avenue in Brantford. The area was naturalized low brush with several stands of trees on the south side of Highway 403, east side of Garden Avenue and north of the northbound Garden Avenue on-ramp to the highway. The Complainant’s body was located under a pine tree.

Forensic Evidence

SIU forensic investigators attended and examined the scene.

The Complainant’s body was found lying supine with an obvious injury to his head that appeared to be a gunshot wound. There was a pistol on the ground nearby. BPS officials advised the SIU that the firearm was initially found near the Complainant’s body but was moved to make the scene safe. The firearm had not been altered or made safe.

A search of the area around the scene revealed a .40 calibre cartridge case on the ground, 3.175 metres away from the Complainant.

During the investigation, the SIU collected the following items for examination:
  • the Smith and Wesson pistol found at the scene as well as the magazine;
  • a cartridge case found on the ground near the Complainant;
  • an iPhone found in the Complainant’s possession;
  • a key fob in the Complainant’s possession; and
  • the Complainant’s hat.

Examination of the firearm revealed it was a Smith and Wesson .40 calibre semi-automatic pistol, consistent with the CW’s description. It was loaded with five rounds of ammunition in the magazine and an additional round in the breech. The examination further revealed the cartridge case found on the ground was the same make and calibre as those loaded in the firearm.

SIU examinations included the firearms of all three police officers involved in this incident. Those examinations revealed that the police-issued ammunition differed from the cartridge case found at the scene. Further, each of the three police-issued firearms were found fully loaded with 15 rounds of ammunition in the magazines and an additional round of ammunition loaded in the breech of each weapon.

Findings from the autopsy are detailed later in this report but the Complainant’s injury consisted of a through-and-through injury to the head. Unfortunately, the projectile was not found during the autopsy and no projectile was found at the scene.

Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence [1]

The BPS advised the SIU that BPS did not utilize in-car camera systems or body-worn cameras.

As this incident occurred in a rural area, there were no surveillance video recordings of the incident. Additionally, there were no highway traffic monitoring cameras along this section
of Highway 403.

Communications Recordings

At 12:08:09 a.m., WO #5 reported he had seen a stolen Honda associated with a missing person investigation. In subsequent transmissions, he provided the direction of travel.

At 12:09:06 a.m., WO #6 calmly reported the vehicle had “hopped the curb, took off” when WO #6 tried to block it by positioning his vehicle in front.

At 12:09:52 a.m., a police officer reported there were two occupants in the vehicle. There were broadcasts regarding the vehicle’s directions of travel.

At 12:12:58 a.m., a police officer reported the vehicle was northbound on Wayne Gretzky Parkway and that “the tires are popped” after the vehicle had travelled over his spike belt. A siren was then heard in the background as a police officer reported the vehicle was getting on Highway 403.

After a police officer reported the vehicle had exited the highway at Garden Avenue, at 12:14:58 a.m., a police officer reported the suspect vehicle was stopped and it “looks like they bailed out”.

At 12:15:22 a.m., it was reported two people were seen fleeing on foot.

At 12:16:33 a.m., one of the responding police officers reported he was on foot in the grass and advised the ground was “super icy”.

At 12:17:10 a.m., a police officer reported, “Shots being fired.” Six seconds after that transmission he reported, “I think he shot himself. There’s a female here screaming.”

At 12:18:05 a.m., a police officer reported, “Looks like a [sudden death].”

At 12:24:07 a.m., WO #5 reported, “The male is moving and breathing. We’re gonna need paramedics down here please.” It was then reported that paramedics were already on scene.

In subsequent transmissions, police officers were noted to be working on traffic and scene control, and identifying the Complainant.

During the BPS investigation, a female identified as the CW was taken into custody. It was reported that Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) had grounds for her arrest for attempted murder.

Materials Obtained from Police Service

The SIU obtained and reviewed the following records from the BPS:
  • Communications Recordings;
  • Computer-assisted Dispatch Report;
  • Search Warrant;
  • Duty Roster-A platoon;
  • Records of Briefing;
  • General Report of WO #4;
  • Notes of the WOs;
  • NRPS Serial Predator Bulletin;
  • Occurrence Summary - Stolen Auto;
  • Officer Involvement Printout;
  • Supplementary Reports of WO #2, WO #3 and WO #6; and
  • Will State of WO #1.

Incident Narrative

The following scenario emerges from the evidence collected by the SIU, which included interviews with the CW, WO #1, WO #5 and WO #6, all present at the time of the events in question.

At about 12:10 a.m. of February 23, 2022, BPS officers - WO #5, and WO #6 - saw a Honda Civic vehicle in the area of Murray and Elgin Streets, Brantford. At the time, BPS police officers had information indicating that the vehicle was connected with a missing person investigation then underway. A further check of the vehicle revealed that it had been reported stolen. The officers initiated a pursuit of the Honda Civic.

The Complainant was operating the stolen vehicle. With him was his girlfriend – the CW. The Complainant led the police on a pursuit across city streets and onto Wayne Gretzky Parkway, where he travelled north before entering onto eastbound Highway 403. By the time he was on the highway, the Complainant had travelled over a spike belt that had been deployed, puncturing one or more of his tires. He had also successfully eluded a police vehicle in front of him by overtaking on the sidewalk.

His vehicle hobbled, the Complainant exited the highway at Garden Avenue, turning left to travel north a short distance before stopping the Honda on the east side of the road just before the Highway 403 overpass. He and the CW exited the vehicle and fled easterly into a field between Garden Avenue, Highway 403, and the northbound Garden Avenue ramp onto the highway. Finding a stand of pine trees, they hid underneath attempting to conceal themselves.

WO #5 and WO #6, as well as WO #1, all arrived in the area in separate vehicles and exited their cruisers in pursuit of the two individuals. While searching for the suspects, the police officers heard what sounded like a gunshot. They eventually found and apprehended the Complainant’s girlfriend – the CW. The Complainant was then found lying under a pine tree with an obvious gunshot wound to the head. The CW identified the man as the Complainant. An automatic handgun was also found by the Complainant. The Complainant had shot himself in the head.

Cause of Death

A post-mortem examination was conducted on February 24, 2022. The examination revealed the cause of death was a gunshot wound of the head.

Relevant Legislation

Sections 219 and 220, 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.

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

In the early morning of February 23, 2022, the Complainant was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound of the head. Because BPS officers were in pursuit of the Complainant prior to his death and in proximity to his person at the time of the shooting, the SIU was notified of the incident and initiated an investigation. The investigation is now concluded. On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any of the 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. In particular, the question is whether there is any evidence to reasonably conclude that the Complainant’s death was in some way caused by a want of care on the part of the officers, which was sufficiently egregious to attract criminal sanction. In my view, there was not.

The officers involved in the pursuit of the Honda were in the lawful execution of their duties. Though the pursuit involved some risky driving by both the pursued and the pursuers – WO #6, for example, attempted to block the Honda’s path with his cruiser – the officers had cause to believe that the occupants of the vehicle were implicated in a serious incident involving a missing person. A pursuit was not unreasonable in the circumstances, particularly as the roads were dry, the weather was clear, and traffic was light.

With respect to the events that transpired in the aftermath of the pursuit, I am satisfied that the Complainant is alone responsible for his self-inflicted death. The officers had just entered onto the field and begun their search when the Complainant shot himself in the head with a semi-automatic handgun in his possession. It seems the Complainant, determined to avoid a return to jail, decided to take his own life when he realized his discovery by the police was imminent. WO #6, the closest of the officers at the time, was between four and five metres away from the Complainant and the CW when the shot rang out.

For the foregoing reasons, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the Complainant’s death is attributable to a want of care on the part of the officers. Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.

Date: June 23, 2022

Electronically approved by

Joseph Martino
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]


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.