Ontario’s police watchdog says there’s no grounds to charge two officers who shot and killed a knife-wielding man who was previously detained under the Mental Health Act.
The director of the Special Investigations Unit says the officers feared for their lives when they fired a combined nine rounds of bullets at the man who was moving towards them with a serrated kitchen knife.
Joseph Martino says there’s no reason to believe the officers broke the law in shooting the man, “notwithstanding the tragic loss of life.”
He says the incident began when someone called 911 reporting that a man was behaving strangely outside a home in St. Catharines, Ont., carrying a large kitchen knife.
Martino says the man was in “mental distress” at the time, and notes that police had been called to the same home a week earlier to check on his welfare.
It says that at that time, an officer apprehended the man under the Mental Health Act, and he was taken to hospital for a psychiatric exam.
It says that the first officer on scene brought a counsellor from the Canadian Mental Health Association with her to the call, but the counsellor stayed in the car because the man was armed.
The agency says the officer drew her gun when she saw the man’s knife, but she tried to talk him down, requesting that he drop the weapon.
“The officer attempted to build a rapport with the (man), but those efforts proved in vain,” Martino wrote in the report, released Thursday.
As the man started walking towards the officer, still holding the knife, a second officer joined her and also drew his gun, Martino said.
“The (man) remained undeterred,” he wrote. “With the (officers) having retreated as far back as the sidewalk and possibly onto the roadway, the (man) took a few quick steps in their direction and was met with a flurry of shots from the (officers’) guns.”
The man died in hospital a day later.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 20, 2020.
Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press