SIU clears officers in death of Danforth shooter
Chris Fox and Rachael D'Amore, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, January 16, 2019 10:57AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 16, 2019 8:23PM EST
The Special Investigations Unit has formally ruled that the actions of two police officers who exchanged gunfire with Danforth shooter Faisal Hussain were “entirely appropriate” and did not cause his subsequent death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In a report released on Wednesday morning, SIU Director Tony Loparco said that he is satisfied that Hussain took his own life following the July 22 shooting that killed two people and wounded 13 others and has found “no evidence that the responding officers’ actions were anything but commendable in the face of truly perilous circumstances.”
“After a careful review of this evidence, I am satisfied that neither Witness Officer #2 nor Witness officer #3 caused Mr. Hussain’s death. Mr. Hussain’s death was caused by a single bullet which traversed his brain and it is clear that neither officer is responsible for this wound,” Loparco wrote. “The post-mortem report stated that the wound would have immediately incapacitated Mr. Hussain; however, the ICCS footage clearly depicted Mr. Hussain running away from the officers after they shot at him. It would have been impossible for Mr. Hussain to run away as depicted if either officer had caused the injury to Mr. Hussain as observed in the post mortem report.”
Hussain opened fire on responding officers
Loparco said that the first 911 call about the Danforth shooting came in at precisely 10 p.m. and within moments the communications centre was “flooded” with similar calls, one of which reported that “Hussain had stood on top of a woman and shot her multiple times in the back.”
He said that the two witness officers were working together that night and were in a marked cruiser near Broadview Street and Queen Street when they first became aware of the situation at 10:06 p.m.
The officers, he said, immediately turned onto Bowden Street and drove northbound towards Danforth Avenue, where they witnessed Hussain shooting towards 7Numbers restaurant from the sidewalk.
At that point, the officers exited their cruiser, drew their firearms and pointed them in Hussain’s direction.
Loparco said that the officers told his investigators that Hussain then turned to face them and fired two to four shots in their direction. Loparco noted the account is supported by surveillance footage from the scene.
He said that the evidence indicates that one of the officers then fired three shots at Hussain while the other officer fired a single shot. That shot ended up shattering a window on the cruiser, according to the report. Following that interaction, “Hussain immediately ran north on Bowden Street and then west on Danforth Avenue until he disappeared from sight behind the Danforth Church,” Loparco explained. Hussain’s lifeless body was later found nearby.
“It is clear that both officers feared for their lives and for the lives of others, and it is similarly clear that this fear was objectively reasonable,” the report states. “Mr. Hussain was actively shooting at the officers, creating an immediate and significant threat, and I find that it was reasonably necessary for the police officers to discharge their firearms in an ultimately failed attempt to neutralize that threat.”
Loparco said that the two responding officers are the only members of the TPS known to have interacted with Hussain prior to his death.
As part of the SIU investigation, a total of 15 civilian witnesses and seven witness officers were interviewed. SIU investigators also reviewed surveillance footage as well as Hussain’s post mortem report.
Loaded magazines, conspiracy theory DVDs seized from gunman’s home
The completion of the SIU’s investigation comes one day after police documents were made public, detailing the items seized from inside the gunman’s apartment.
The documents, obtained by CTV News Toronto and other media, revealed that several loaded magazines and ammunition were located at the apartment by a police.
Among the items seized:
- Two fully loaded 9mm handgun magazines
- Two loaded 7.62mm magazines for an AK-47 assault rifle
- Various quantities of shotgun and other ammunition
- Two drum-style extended capacity magazines that full of ammunition
Police also located a number of DVDs of conspiracy theory documentaries, many of which claim 9/11 was perpetrated by the U.S. government.
One of the documentaries seized included “9/11: The Road to Tyranny,” which was directed by Alex Jones, the Infowars conspiracy theorist best known for claiming the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children were killed, was a hoax.
Mubin Shaikh, a terrorism and radicalization expert, said the new information points to a person struggling with mental health.
“This is not a jihadist case, this is not an ISIS case, this is not an episode of Homeland,” he said.
“(This is) an individual who has been known to police for mental issues who was radicalized by Alex Jones and Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories.”
It was what officers did not find in Hussain’s apartment that speaks volumes, Shaikh said.
“No ISIS flags, no ISIS visits or visits to ISIS websites, nothing along those lines, nothing even resembling remotely rhetoric that would be used by ISIS. In fact, the family member, the brother was noting that this guy wouldn’t even pray. They would basically have to force him to go to Friday prayers… Plus there was (believed to be) cocaine found in his room,” he said.
“Not exactly the profile of a developed Muslim jihadist, if you will.”
Police have released no details about Hussain’s motives. Shaikh said he does not believe the world will ever know exactly why the gunman went on the rampage.
“A lot of people were confused as to why they weren’t getting more information,” he said.
“There’s no conspiracy. Police are not withholding information... These issues need to come out in court and that’s why we’re finding this information out now.”
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that officers continue to work on what he calls a “large-scale investigation.”
“We have committed to releasing a full investigative report when our work is done. The information released yesterday by the courts only represents the very early stages of our investigative efforts. Since then, we have completed nine more judicial authorizations. We understand the concerns raised due to the partial release of this information but once our work is complete, there will be a more fulsome understanding of this incident.”
Danielle Kane, a 31-year-old nursing student who has been left paralyzed from the waist down after being struck by a bullet during the Danforth shooting, said she is waiting to hear the results from the rest of the police investigation, but also wants to “put it to rest.”
“Hearing about the kinds of material he was looking at and knowing that he had all this ammunition at home, I'm in a way glad that the day didn’t bring about, that there wasn't more devastation that day,” she said. “It’s hard to keep going back to that day.”