SIU clears TPS officer who shot suspect after mass shooting near Jane and Finch
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Friday, January 29, 2016 10:53AM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 29, 2016 1:44PM EST
A Toronto police officer who shot and wounded a suspect in the aftermath of a mass shooting near Jane and Finch last April has been cleared of wrongdoing.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit investigated the officer’s actions and said Friday that the officer acted within his legal right.
“(There is) very little doubt on the evidence that the subject officer did not exceed the bounds of legally justifiable force when he discharged his firearm,” SIU Director Tony Loparco said in a news release.
“I am satisfied he would have been fearful for his life at the time of his firearm discharges. The officer would have had every reason to believe that the man had just been involved in a shooting and was armed with a firearm and prepared to use it.”
Sometime before 6 p.m. on April 16, four men and one woman were shot outside a townhouse on Driftwood Avenue. One of the men suffered life-threatening injuries.
A short while later, Toronto police officers in the area of Driftwood Avenue and Jane Street saw several men get into a dark coloured car and speed away from the area after hearing gunshots, SIU investigators said.
Officers tracked the fleeing vehicle to the area around Elmhurst and Cromarty drives, where police “boxed in” the suspect vehicle.
Three occupants of the car, including its driver, got out of the car and were taken into custody.
A fourth occupant of the vehicle got out and was confronted by a Toronto police officer on the front lawn of a home at 124 Elmhurst Drive, SIU investigators said.
The suspect was shot twice by the officer, suffering wounds to his right elbow, chest and back, SIU investigators said.
The suspect was taken to hospital for treatment.
Loparco said other officers at the scene reported hearing that the suspect had a gun and that the officer who shot him first ordered him to drop it.
A Colt 1911.45 calibre pistol was found in the front yard of 124 Elmhurst Drive, the SIU said. Another gun was found in the driveway of a neighbouring home and a third gun was found near the suspect vehicle.
The four suspects —three Toronto men and one Mississauga man — were charged with a total of 112 offences in relation to the earlier shooting, including attempted murder.
Loparco said the eight investigators and three forensic investigators assigned to the case reviewed statements from police officers, eyewitness accounts from nearby residents, police radio traffic, DNA and other forensic evidence, as well as surveillance camera footage and one cell phone video captured by a witness.
“As the security camera recordings vividly make clear, the situation that confronted the officer was volatile, rapidly evolving and fraught with danger,” Loparco said. “ I am unable on this record to conclude that his decision to resort to his firearm, made in the heat of the moment with little time to react, was without objective justification.”
The officer who fired his weapon exercised his legal right and declined to provide an interview or his notes to SIU investigators.
The SIU is called in to investigate all incidents involving Ontario police officers that result in a civilian’s death, serious injury or an allegation of sexual assault.