Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has cleared a Peterborough Police Service officer following the fatal shooting of a fugitive on the run in July 2019.
According to the SIU, around 8:30 p.m. on July 23, 2019, OPP began to follow a reportedly stolen car from Millbrook, Ont., on Highway 115 south of the city. OPP suspected the red Mustang was involved in alleged crimes in the Barrie area.
The SIU says the vehicle headed north towards the city when a municipal police officer began a vehicular pursuit.
The pursuit reportedly ended when the Mustang collided with an SUV at The Parkway and Sanford Fleming Drive. The driver of the SUV, a 64-year-old woman, sustained a broken arm, the SIU stated.
According to SIU director Joseph Martino, both city police and Peterborough County OPP were then involved in a standoff with the driver of the Mustang.
Martino says a Peterborough Police Service officer then shot the driver around 9:40 p.m.
The victim was taken to Peterborough Regional Health Centre, where he was pronounced dead, the SIU said.
“As police officers approached the area, the driver (Complainant No. 1) apparently raised a shotgun and pointed it at police officers,” wrote Martino.
“The police officers contained the area and commenced negotiations with the occupants of the vehicle. During negotiations, Complainant No. 1 reportedly put the shotgun to his chin several times. At 9:41 p.m., the subject officer fired a C8 rifle and struck Complainant No 1. Shortly thereafter, the woman passenger surrendered. Complainant No. 1 was transported to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre where he was pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m.”
Martino said a triple-barreled shotgun wielded by the complainant was recovered from the scene and found to contain three live shot shells.
Martino, in his report issued Monday, said there was no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and that the file is closed.
“He (subject officer) feared for the life of his fellow officers, as well as his own; this fear appears to have been shared by the other officer present, who had been tirelessly trying to convince Complainant No, 1 to put down his weapon and to end this incident without the loss of life,” Martino concluded.
“I accept that the subject officer genuinely and reasonably believed that shooting Complainant No. 1 was necessary to protect both himself, and his fellow officers, from loss of life or grievous bodily harm. In fact, it had been agreed in advance among the officers present that if Complainant No 1 exited the motor vehicle with the firearm, they would consider him a grave and lethal threat to both the community at large, and the police officers present in particular, and that the subject would then have to shoot Complainant No. 1”
The shooting victim was identified as Billy Shea, 27, of no fixed address who, at the time, was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant.
Shea, a federal parolee, allegedly robbed a convenience store at gunpoint in West Hamilton on July 16. He was facing three charges of robbery with a firearm, disguise with intent and being unlawfully at large.
According to the Ontario Provincial Police’s repeat offender parole enforcement (ROPE) squad, Shea allegedly breached his statutory release after serving a five-year sentence for multiple counts of robbery and vehicle theft.
The SIU investigation involved six investigators and four forensic investigators.