Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded its investigation into a 2018 fatal police shooting of 19-year-old Quinn MacDougall in Hamilton’s north end.
Investigators say the incident involved Hamilton police responding to several 911 calls made about a “man with a gun.”
When multiple police officers responded to the scene, the man — identified by Global News as MacDougall — was stun-gunned and then shot dead by police after he allegedly “lunged” at an officer.
SIU ended the case after the agency determined the shots fired by the officers were justified.
SIU director Tony Loparco’s report revealed the incident happened just before 4 p.m. on April 3, 2018 after several 911 calls were made by MacDougall, who was describing Snapchat messages he had received that were “threatening in nature.”
After multiple calls about a man with a gun, 911 operators began to cross-reference phone numbers associated with the calls and make return phone calls to “determined the location of the caller.”
One of the calls came from a neighbour, who had loaned his cellphone to MacDougall during the episode and later told police MacDougall was “shaken or scared.”
As police cruisers began arriving at an area near the driveway of a townhouse complex on Caledon Avenue north of Tyrone Drive, an officer made contact with MacDougall and his neighbour and proceeded to inquire about the location of the “guy with the gun.”
The report goes on to say that MacDougall then pointed to an arriving plainclothes officer and indicated that he was the guy with the gun.
After the two officers had a short dialogue, more officers began to arrive.
Multiple witnesses shared similar stories with investigators alleging that MacDougall, armed with a knife, charged without warning at the plainclothes officer, who was seated in a vehicle.
As officers shouted at MacDougall, ordering him to drop the knife, another officer attempted to discharge a Taser into MacDougall’s back but failed, according to the SIU report.
MacDougall allegedly raised his knife and directed it at the head of the plainclothes officer in his vehicle, who rolled up his driver’s side window.
MacDougall then ran down a sidewalk, where he was once again cornered by officers and stun-gunned, the report said.
He continued to charge “undeterred” at an officer and was “seen to make several chopping motions with the knife,” the report added.
The responding officer then attempted to transition from his conductive weapon to his Glock pistol.
The report then goes on to say that MacDougall screamed, “You want to kill me? You want me to die?” before two other officers discharged their firearms.
Hit by four shots, including one in the chest, MacDougall took a few steps before collapsing to the ground.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
In Loparco’s summation of the case, the SIU director found that in all circumstances in which the two officers had discharged their weapons, they believed their lives were in danger.
“It is clear from the observations of all witnesses, both civilian and police, that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the Complainant (MacDougall) was in possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace,” said Loparco.
“I further find that that risk was not one that any of the officers ought to have had to take when faced with a knife-wielding man and the imminent death or serious bodily harm of one of their fellow officers.”
Loparco went on to exonerate the officers, saying he was “satisfied on reasonable grounds on this record that the actions resorted to by these two officers, despite the tragic loss of life, fell within the limits prescribed by the criminal law.”
WATCH (March 29, 2019): SIU says there are reasonable grounds to lay charges against Niagara Regional Police officer