Halton Police Officers Not Facing Charges Following Death of 22-Year-Old Man
Halton Police officers will not be facing charges following the death of a 22-year-old man.
On Sept. 22, 2018, at around 4:45 a.m., Halton Police officers were dispatched to a two-vehicle collision on the QEW near Burloak Drive in Burlington.
One of the drivers, a 22-year-old man, fled from the collision.
According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), a local taxi company was contacted and noted that they received a call from the man near the scene.
The man, according to the SIU, had sounded disoriented and was at the Esso Gas Bar on Appleby Line and Harvestor Road.
A Halton Police officer went to the gas station and located the man in the washroom.
Over the next couple of minutes, multiple officers arrived at the gas station and confirmed that the man matched the driver’s description.
Officers intended to arrest him for failing to remain.
Four police officers stood outside the washroom, identified themselves, and tried to convince the man to exit the voluntarily.
However, the man refused and the officers could hear him talking on his cell phone.
Around the same time, another officer was investigating the collision.
The officer, according to the SIU, noticed a lot of blood inside the man's vehicle, notably in and around the rear console, as if he had reached for something.
The officer also found a blue bandana with white teardrop marks, and thought the man might be a gang member. This, according to the SIU, would explain why the man fled the collision.
At around 5:20 a.m., the officer notified dispatch that he had found gang insignia inside the man's vehicle and that he did not know whether the man had any weapons.
More police officers continued to arrive at the Esso gas station, and the man became increasingly agitated while officers tried to convince him to come out of the washroom.
According to the SIU, the man swore at the officers and told one officer, "I will go to heaven before I ever come out to police."
Footage showed two officers holding ballistic shields and pointing CEWs (conducted energy weapons) towards the washroom door.
One officer used OC spray underneath the door in an effort to get the man to exit the washroom. The man coughed but did not come out.
Another officer holstered his CEW and put his hand on his firearm.
According to the SIU, at 5:34 a.m., two officers opened the washroom door with a pry bar and a sledge hammer.
At this point, as noted by the SIU, based on a review of obtained footage, it appeared that none of the police officers had their firearms drawn.
When the door opened, one officer saw the man seated by the sink with a handgun pointed in the police officers' direction.
The man shot at the officers multiple times through the washroom wall and open door.
The bullets struck one officer twice in the right thigh and caused wounds to another officer's leg and thumb.
Officers reacted by rushing towards the front entrance of the gas station. However, they were unable to exit because the front door had been locked and could only be unlocked using a button accessible by the attendant, who had taken cover underneath a counter.
The officers tried unsuccessfully to open the door for a few seconds, and then the majority drew their firearms and pointed them in the direction of the washroom. The man exited the washroom and ran along a row of coolers at the back of the store while the officers shot at him.
According to the SIU, from the obtained footage, it appeared that the man had a black object, such as a firearm, in his hands while he was running.
The man crouched with the object and then fell forward onto his stomach where he became motionless on the floor. A black handgun was found on the floor a few feet from his body. SIU investigators determined that the handgun was out of bullets.
Paramedics then entered the gas station to assess the man but found no pulse.
The man was declared dead.
A post-mortem examination of the man's body revealed that he had six gunshot wounds, one of which was fatal because the bullet perforated his lungs and heart.
SIU investigators seized the firearms of officers involved in the shooting and learned that five officers likely discharged their firearms.
After examining the officers' firearms and assuming that they were loaded to capacity, it was determined that one officer discharged his firearm a maximum of four times, another officer discharged his firearm once, another discharged his firearm up to five times, another discharged his firearm no more than three times and, lastly, another discharged his firearm once at most.
"Regardless of which of the officers ultimately shot the [man], it is clear that none of the officers committed a criminal offence in relation to his death," reads the SIU report.
According to Joseph Martino, Interim Director, SIU, no charges will be laid in relation to this incident.
"In summary, it is possible that up to four HRPS [Halton Regional Police Service] officers and one OPP sergeant shot at the [man]; however, I do not believe that any officer committed a criminal offence in relation to the shooting," Martin said in the report. "The [man] was the first to shoot, striking two police officers, and was armed with a handgun when he exited the washroom. He continued to pose an imminent and serious risk of grievous harm or death to the officers when the officers returned fire."
As a result, as mentioned, no charges will be laid and the file will be closed.
Photos are courtesy of the SIU.
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