SIU says police officer committed no crime in firing a anti-riot weapon at man in Uxbridge

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Published July 8, 2023 at 3:31 pm

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says a Durham Regional Police officer will not face criminal charges after shooting an Anti-Riot Weapon Enfield (ARWEN) at a man while responding to a distress call in Uxbridge.

The man’s right hand was broken after he was struck.

An SIU report says that on Mar. 9, 2023, police received a Mental Health Act call regarding a dispute between a mother and her 40-year-old son, who had a history of mental illness and was reportedly behaving erratically.

The woman told police her son suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, anxiety and depression and was “freaking out.” Police were also told he had a history of hearing voices telling him to kill himself or others.

The woman, who was locked in a bathroom while her son was in the kitchen, told police she wanted him removed from her residence. According to the report, she asked police to enter via the backdoor. It was unknown if her son had weapons, but he had access to kitchen utensils.

The mother also mentioned to police he did not take any anti-psychotic medication, and it was possible he would be violent with officers because he was unpredictable. The woman believed her son would arm himself with a knife because he was in the kitchen and that he would make weapons if he did not have them.

The report says the man had consumed four beers but had made no threats to his mother or others.

The man was flagged on police records for ‘violence’ and ‘prohibited firearms’ with a history of assault causing bodily harm.

The tactical supervisor (one witness officer) confirmed with the dispatcher the tactical team was on their way from Whitby with a mental health unit. According to the report, the woman made her way outside of the home and the backdoor to the house wouldn’t open because her son had slammed it.

Footage shows the mother informing officers that her son was inside having a mental health breakdown. She told officers that she had asked a hospital to admit him, but was refused.

The report says police deemed the man arrestable under the Mental Health Act.

According to the report, an officer armed with an ARWEN, along with another witness officer, approached the home and saw the man was armed with a kitchen knife. The man reportedly approached the door, left, and then returned with a knife behind his back. The SIU says he approached officers while holding the knife, prompting the officer to shoot him twice with the ARWEN. He was struck in the abdomen and hand and dropped the knife.

The report says officers followed the man as he walked to the kitchen, fired a conducted energy weapon at him and handcuffed him.

The man was taken to hospital after the arrest and diagnosed with a fractured right hand.

Joseph Martino, the director of the SIU, mentioned in his report, “On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the Subject Officer (SO) committed a criminal offence in connection with the complainant’s arrest and injury.”

In his analysis, Martino said police were right to arrest the man given his mental health history and current behaviour, and that discharging two non-lethal rounds at him does not qualify as excessive force.

“The [man] had appeared at the doorway brandishing a knife. When he opened the door and confronted the officers with the weapon, he represented a clear and present danger of grievous bodily harm and even death given their proximity,” Martino wrote.

“In that moment, it would appear that the use of the ARWEN was a reasonable tactic. If it worked, there was a real prospect that the weapon would immediately deter the [man] from a safe distance without inflicting serious injury.”

Martino said the file is now closed.

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