Ontario’s police watchdog clears Toronto officer after man dies following violent altercation

Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared a Toronto police officer after he shot and killed a man who stabbed another officer earlier this year.

According to the report by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), police were called by paramedics to a condo at Yonge Street and Merton Street, just north of Mount Pleasant Cemetery, to assist them with a man in “mental distress” on the evening of May 22.

According to the report, a woman had called 911 to request an ambulance and to report that her son, who had schizophrenia, was having an episode of “yelling and screaming” and had hit her. When asked, the mother said that the man did not have any weapons, but did have access to knives inside her apartment and had been violent before, threatening a neighbour with a paring knife.

The woman called again 15 minutes later when an ambulance had not arrived, and requested police as well.

Paramedics arrived and spoke to the mother outside the building. By that time, the man’s father had also arrived and accompanied paramedics to the apartment, where they knocked on the door and no one answered. They decided to wait for police to arrive to access the apartment, according to the SIU.

Four officers arrived at the unit at about 9 p.m., where they knocked on the apartment’s door and announced themselves as police, but received no response. Concerned the man could be harming himself, they used a key from the man’s father to unlock the door, according to the report. 

The man then told officers to get out of the apartment, holding a knife in his right hand. He then “moved quickly in the direction of the officers, preventing them from closing the door as they retreated,” the report said. 

An officer attempted a Taser to subdue the man with no success, the SIU says.

The man then raised the knife and repeatedly stabbed another officer, seriously injuring him. During the struggle, another officer tried to use a Taser to stop the man, again with no success. It was then that an officer shot the man in his back, as he was “fearing for the officer’s life,” according to the SIU report.

The man was then taken to hospital where he was later pronounced dead at 10 p.m.

The officer who was attacked was also taken to hospital, where he received treatment for superficial cuts to his forearm, as well as cuts to the right side of his head and right shoulder, and a stab wound in the back.

In his decision, SIU Director Joseph Martino said the officer who shot the man was “legally justified” in his actions.

“The officers were lawfully placed at all times throughout their brief engagement with the complainant,” the report said.

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