The Special Investigations Unit has cleared an Ontario Provincial Police officer following a fatal shooting in Stone Mills last November.
“I accept that the (officer involved) genuinely and reasonably believed that shooting the complainant was necessary to protect himself from loss of life or grievous bodily harm,” Joseph Martino, director of the SIU, wrote in his analysis of the case. “The officer was confronted by an individual threatening him with a dangerous weapon at close range.”
The investigation was initiated on the evening of Nov. 12 when the officer was called to check on a man who had first driven his vehicle off the Fifth Lake Road near Enterprise and then threatened a nearby resident who had offered to help. The man had told the resident that he had guns in the car, he knew dangerous people, and that there was someone coming to get him.
The resident called 911 at about 6 p.m. and told them about the vehicle in the ditch and the threats.
When the officer arrived, they found the small Toyota in the ditch with the man inside. The report states that he knew that the man had told the resident that he had guns in the vehicle, but because it was hunting season and in a rural area, he did not consider it unusual.
When the officer spoke to the man, he said that he was fine and that because he was homeless, he’d spend the night in his car. The officer suggested that they call for a tow truck and the man could spend the night in a shelter. The man agreed to the plan and the officer returned to his cruiser to call for a tow.
While he was in his cruiser, the officer searched for the man on the Canadian Police Information Centre database. Records showed that the man had been flagged for being violent and that he was on conditions not to possess any firearms.
The officer returned to the car, keeping a short distance away, and asked him about the guns he had told the resident about. The man denied actually having any guns in the vehicle and appeared to become agitated, shifting in his seat and glaring at the officer.
The officer then noticed an orange aluminum baseball bat propped on the passenger seat. The man grabbed the neck of the bat tightly and told the officer that it was his protection. Still gripping the bat, the man got out of his vehicle, and the officer ran out of the ditch and onto the road. The report states that the man swung the bat over his head while staring at the officer.
The officer instructed the man to stop moving and to “Put it down! Put it down!”
Instead, the man walked out of the ditch with the bat, toward the officer. Again the officer told the man to put down that bat or he would have to shoot him. The man then started to jog toward the officer with the bat. The officer ran around his cruiser, attempting to find cover, but the man continued to charge him.
The officer shot the man twice but he did not slow, and so the officer shot him six more times. The man collapsed, the officer kicked away the bat and immediately started life-saving aid.
Despite his efforts and the efforts of paramedics, the 48-year-old man died at the scene at about 7:05 p.m. His name was not released at the request of his family.
“I am satisfied on reasonable grounds that the (officer’s) conduct did not run afoul of the limits prescribed by the criminal law,” Martino wrote in his analysis. “The (officer), in his interview with SIU investigators, indicated that he fired his weapon fearing for his life and that he acted pursuant to his training when dealing with an armed attacker.”https://www.thewhig.com/news/local-news ... tone-mills