Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has found that a Kingston police officer, who shot a man who had stabbed two people, killing one, before turning the knife on himself, was not at fault in the attacker’s death.
“For whatever reason, the complainant was on a violent rampage. Knife in hand, with a 20-centimetre blade, he had viciously attacked an innocent civilian — now deceased — and was in the middle of stabbing another,” said Joseph Martino, director of the SIU.
The incident between the officer, who was later identified as Const. Fil Wisniak, and 22-year old Evan Freeman took all but one minute, on Sep. 12, 2019, at the corner of Bagot and Queen streets, according to the SIU.
Wisniak arrived at the scene at 1:44 p.m., and called for an ambulance at 1:45 p.m. after Freeman had been shot and had also stabbed himself in the neck multiple times. Freeman died.
Global News independently confirmed the identifies of Freeman and Wisniak, but the SIU did not release either of their names to the public.
Nearly the entire incident was caught on camera by two civilians, the SIU noted.
By the time Wisniak arrived, Freeman had already stabbed Christopher Groeneveld-Barry to death.
Freeman then began attacking 85-year-old Terry Stafford, who survived several stab wounds to the face.
According to the SIU, Wisniak was on patrol that day in the downtown area when a nearby pedestrian came to him and alerted him that a man was stabbing people down the street.
Wisniak ran two blocks and. He pointed his gun at Freeman while he was attacking Stafford. Freeman was also reportedly planning on attacking a woman nearby who was attempting to help one of the two stabbing victims, but she escaped once Wisniak arrived on scene.
The SIU says Wisniak repeatedly shouted at Freeman to get down on the ground, while Freeman refused and shouted obscenities back. Freeman then moved away from Stafford, and tried to run while Wisniak continued to point his gun at him.
According to the SIU, Freeman then charged towards Wisniak with his knife drawn. A gunshot can be heard in the recording of the incident, and then Freeman can be seen holding his abdomen.
The SIU then describes a Kingston police SUV arriving on scene, screeching to halt between Freeman and Wisniak. Two officers exit the SUV with their weapons drawn on Freeman.
This is when Freeman can be seen using the knife he used against two others, and stabbing himself in the neck repeatedly.
Both Wisniak and another police officer then discharged their conducted energy weapons on Freeman, and attended to him as he lay on the ground, the SIU says.
They disarmed him and attempted to save his life. A post-mortem concluded that the cause of death was both a gunshot wound to the abdomen and the stab wounds to the neck.
After speaking to 22 witnesses, and four police officers, SIU investigators concluded that although Wisniak’s gunshot contributed to Freeman’s death, the use of force was justified.
“It is clear that the complainant was on the cusp of launching a knife attack on the subject officer when the officer fired his weapon. It is also clear that the subject officer had no other option if he was going to preserve himself from a potentially lethal attack,” Martino said.
He added that Wisniak’s quick actions most likely saved the lives of two civilians and that there is no basis to charge the officer with any offences.