'I feared for my life': Toronto man shot by police wants bodycam footage of incident released
Devon Fowlin was left in critical condition after he was shot at multiple times by a Toronto police officer late last month.
Published Wednesday, March 22, 2023 8:16PM EDT
A Toronto man who was shot multiple times by a police officer while he was walking his dog last month says more could have been done to de-escalate the situation that almost left him dead.
“They pointed their guns at me right away. They shouted one command and immediately I felt a shot and right after I just heard multiple shots going off,” Devon Fowlin told reporters at a news conference organized by his lawyer Wednesday.
“I feared for my life immediately after I got shot in the arm.”
According to Ontario’s police watchdog, two officers fired conducted energy weapons at Fowlin while a third discharged his firearm multiple times, which left him in critical condition and with five gunshot wounds to his chest, wrist, and abdomen.
Initial reports, according to the SIU, is that Fowlin was in the park on the morning of Feb. 27 armed with a knife when he threatened another person. But both Fowlin and his lawyer dispute that sequence of events.
“What the family is contesting is the information police put out immediately after the shooting that slants the narrative and puts the onus on Mr. Fowlin to explain what he was doing when police need to explain why there were firing at a man who posed no safety risk,” Knia Singh, Fowlin’s lawyer, said.
Fowlin said he has been experiencing homelessness ever since he was laid off from his job in Montreal. He moved to Toronto in the summer of 2021 and admits he did have a knife on him at the time of the incident, but that he uses it to cook and that he hadn’t threatened anyone.
After he was shot, Fowlin said he dropped the knife and ran from police before collapsing at the intersection of Black Creek and Trethewey drives, at which point he alleges another cruiser tried to strike him.
“It’s not regular police procedure for what they’ve done. They normally do talk to people first to try and de-escalate the situation,” Fowlin said.
Fowlin spent several days in intensive care before he requested a discharge as he said he didn’t feel safe in the space. He’s since been recovering in the care of family members and has been reunited with his dog.
He was not charged in connection with the incident.
Now, Fowlin, his family, and his lawyer are all calling for the release of the officers’ bodycam footage of the incident.
“I think that it’s extremely important that the public have access to that footage just like we see south of the border when important cases of police violence, especially against African-descent males, takes place,” Singh said.
“We have never seen it happen like that in Canada, however, this is a prime opportunity for the police, the SIU, and all government agencies, to demonstrate their willingness to correct this problem.”
In a statement to CTV News Toronto, a spokesperson for the SIU said that four investigators and two forensic investigators have been assigned to the case.
“To preserve the integrity of any investigation, the SIU does not release information pertaining to the evidence collected while an investigation is ongoing. This would include body cam footage,” the statement read.
In the meantime, Fowlin said he doesn’t want any of the police officers involved to face any charges, but hopes that sharing his story will bring more transparency to the incident and prevent a similar police interaction from taking place with someone else in the future.
The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates incidents involving police where there has been death, serious injury, allegations of sexual assault, and/or where a firearm has been discharged at a person.
With files from CTV News Toronto’s John Musselman.