Officer cleared after shooting man with ARWEN less-lethal weapon in Oshawa

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Published July 11, 2023 at 3:44 pm

OPP officers chased the suspect through the woods in Oshawa prior to his arrest as seen on police helicopter footage. - via the SIU.

An OPP officer has been cleared of any wrongdoing in shooting a fleeing suspect with an ARWEN less-lethal firearm in Oshawa.

The subject officer was part of a Tactical Response Unit assembled to arrest the suspect on March 13. The suspect was wanted on assault and weapons charges and had been under surveillance that day. Police found the suspect in St. Catharines around 10:30 a.m. and trailed him east to Oshawa.

Around 12:30 p.m. a police helicopter reported the suspect had stopped his pick-up truck on the south shoulder of Hwy. 401 near Colonel Sam Dr. by the border with Courtice. The helicopter told the Tactical Unit the suspect had left his truck and run south across the train tracks.

At this point, he was on the north side of Colonel Sam Dr. The officers, all in a van, travelled to a building on the street and confronted the suspect there. The suspect spotted the cops leaving the van and bolted back north. He was carrying a backpack.

As he ran, the subject officer fired four rounds from an ARWEN launcher at his back but he continued to flee east along the train tracks. One shot struck the suspect in his leg. An Anti Riot Weapon ENfield (ARWEN) launches a variety of less-lethal ammunition such as impact batons and smoke grenades.

The suspect ditched the backpack as he fled, but soon ran out of steam. He surrendered to the Tactical Unit without further incident. Police found the backpack and discovered a loaded pistol. When the suspect was taken to hospital, he was found to have recently taken narcotics.

Since an officer had fired a weapon, the OPP was required to notify the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates any such discharges. The SIU interviewed several witness officers, though the officer under investigation refused an interview. Officers under investigation by the SIU have the right to refuse.

SIU investigators arrived at the snow-covered scene shortly before 5 p.m. They reviewed the area and footage from the helicopter to assist in their investigation.

On July 11, SIU Director Joseph Martino released his decision on whether the subject officer should be charged. He found there were no grounds to believe the officer had broken any law. He said police are immune to prosecution for use of force during the commission of their duties as long as the use of for is “reasonably necessary.”

The suspect “was known to carry firearms and was wanted for arrest on serious charges. His capture, therefore, was a matter of pressing public interest,” Martino concluded, “When the [suspect] ran from the police, the officers were entitled to resort to a measure of force to prevent his escape.”

“The use of the ARWEN would seem a reasonable tactic in the circumstances as it stood to temporarily immobilize the [suspect] without inflicting grievous bodily harm or death.”

 

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