Ontario’s police watchdog says no charges are warranted in the fatal shooting of a man reported to be in distress who stabbed an officer in May.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said Toronto police officers were called to a condo in the area of Yonge and Merton streets, south of Davisville Avenue, shortly after 9 p.m. on May 22.
Police received a call from a woman who advised that her son who had schizophrenia was suffering from mental distress and had just hit her. She said he did not have any weapons, but had access to knives in the unit.
Officers responded and during their encounter with the man — who became armed with a knife — fired a conducted energy weapon at him, to no avail.
The man repeatedly stabbed an officer causing serious injuries.
During the encounter, another officer fired a gun at the man’s back, the SIU said. The man was taken to hospital where he died.
SIU director Joseph Martino said that because the man was in the middle of a knife attack on an officer, the fatal gunshot was justified.
Martino did note, however, that the officers who responded to the incident “gave little thought” to requesting a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT) “or believed that such a team was unavailable or inappropriate in the circumstances.”
“These teams, which pair specially trained police officers with mental health nurses, are part of the police service’s strategy to engage more effectively with persons in mental health crisis,” Martino said.
“Pursuant to the terms of police service’s present policy, it appears that an MCIT ought to have been requested and/or deployed. That said, whether such a team might have contributed to a more positive outcome had they been at the scene is a matter of speculation.”
The full report can be found on the SIU website.