Family of Norfolk gunsmith shot dead by Toronto police unhappy with results of SIU probe

The family of 70-year-old Rodger Kotanko say they are not happy with answers from the SIU in connection with is shooting death on Nov. 3, 2021. Image supplied to Global News

The family of a gunsmith shot and killed by Toronto police in a 2021 raid in Norfolk County say they are disappointed with the results of a Special Investigation Unit probe that exonerates a Toronto police officer.

Family members and their Toronto lawyer addressed the matter in a press conference out front of the Port Ryerse Road home of Rodger Kotanko, saying they were “not surprised” with the result since only three per cent of SIU probes result in charges, according to its latest annual report.

“The family is clearly and obviously disappointed with the results of the SIU investigation and they’re actually hurt by it,” said Michael Smitiuch, counsel for the family.

The SIU probe was launched in connection with the death of Kotanko during a Toronto police firearms enforcement unit (FEU) action at a Simcoe, Ont., property near highways 6 and 24 around noon on Nov. 3, 2021.

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Director Joseph Martino insisted an excessive force claim was not reasonably established when four rounds were discharged at Kotanko after he failed to raise his hands following multiple requests from the FEU.

Martino’s narrative went on to say Kotanko even went as far as to retrieve a customer’s .45-calibre pistol he was repairing and turning it towards an officer.

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“The subject officer fired his gun — a Glock .40 calibre semi-automatic — four times in rapid succession, striking the complainant and knocking him off his chair onto his back,” Martino wrote.

Smitiuch said the family’s concerns surround the planning of the raid and the absence of the OPP‘s assistance during the action, which they contest might have resulted in a less tragic outcome.

“You can’t take a cookie-cutter approach to every situation, especially when we’re dealing with a known gunsmith who was well known with the local OPP,” Smitiuch said.

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Smitiuch said the situation could have been “dealt with completely differently.”

Kotanko’s sister, Suzanne Kantor, said the SIU investigation “doesn’t add up” and the family is questioning its validity.

“It is outrageous and unthinkable that police officers who targeted and took down Rodger, can call it a day and simply walk away,” Kantor said in a release.

The family has launched a lawsuit against Toronto Police and is seeking $23 million in damages in his death.

The statement of claim alleges that Toronto police “recklessly targeted Kotanko, negligently planned the raid, and used excessive and unjustifiable force.”

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