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SIU clears OPP officer in Fergus, Ont. fatal shooting

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit has cleared a Peterobrough Police Service officer after a woman was injured during an arrest in January 2022. Global News

Ontario’s police watchdog says there are no reasonable grounds to lay charges against an OPP officer following the August fatal shooting of a 31-year-old man in Fergus, Ont.

The Special Investigations Unit released its report on Tuesday following the incident that happened inside the man’s apartment on Belsyde Avenue on Aug. 15.

Read more: Man dead, officer injured after shooting in Fergus, Ont.

Officers were called to the building just after 11 a.m. for reports that a man was screaming and yelling inside his unit.

The SIU noted that the man had been struggling with mental health for a number of years and that he was of “unsound mind” at the time.

When officers entered the apartment, the SIU said the man was holding knives in each of his hands and then barricaded himself in a bedroom.

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The SIU also noted that crisis negotiators were not available to attend and officers with the emergency response team would take up to an hour to arrive.

The officers on scene tried to communicate with the man and eventually entered the bedroom to find the man in the closet still holding the knives.

The SIU seized body camera video of what unfolded and reported that the officers told the man that he was not in any trouble and that the officers were there to help him.

Over the course of 30 to 40 minutes, the SIU said the man refused to leave the closet and drop the knives despite commands from police, which resulted in officers using pepper spray several times to try and get him to respond.

After spraying him one final time, the man bolted from the closet and charged at an officer with the knives, the SIU said.

The report added that man was within arm’s reach when the officer fired his gun four times. The man was pronounced dead by paramedics a short time later.

Click to play video: 'SIU director speaks 1-on-1 with Global News anchor Farah Nasser' SIU director speaks 1-on-1 with Global News anchor Farah Nasser
SIU director speaks 1-on-1 with Global News anchor Farah Nasser – Jul 7, 2020

The SIU also noted that as the man charged at the officer, other officers used their stun guns, which had no effect.

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“At the time he fired, the officer was no more than a metre from the complainant and his knives,” SIU director Joseph Martino said in the report.

“He might also have been cut by the complainant. On this record, caught in the tight confines of a small bedroom and with nowhere else to go, I accept that the subject officer acted reasonably to defend himself when he met the risk of a potentially deadly knife attack with a resort to lethal force of his own.”

Read more: Mississauga man faces charges after bomb scare at Waterloo airport

Two folding knives found in the bedroom were seized by the SIU along with three other knives found in the apartment’s kitchen.

The entire report can be found on the SIU’s website.

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