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Parents of man fatally shot by London police want answers after charges cleared

The Special Investigations Unit has identified the man fatally shot by a London Police Officer as 29-year-old Justin Bourassa of Sarnia Ont. Via McKenzie Blundy Funeral Home website

The parents of a Sarnia, Ont., man shot a killed by a London police officer in the city last year are asking why no other form of intervention was used before “shooting at his neck point blank.”

On Oct. 28, just before 4 a.m., 29-year-old Justin Bourassa was stopped by two police officers looking for suspects in a break and enter that was reported at St. George Street and Mill Street.

Read more: SIU finds no ‘reasonable grounds’ to charge London police officers in shooting of Justin Bourassa

According to a report provided by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), Bourassa was not involved in the reported break and enter, but the police would not know this until after the incident.

Two officers tried to detain and place handcuffs on Bourassa, resulting in a struggle that caused all parties to fall to the ground.

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The SIU said Bourassa choked one of the officers for about 45 to 60 seconds before the other officer fatally shot him in the neck at close range.

He was taken to hospital and later pronounced dead, the SIU said in a previous statement.

“There was no evidence of other forms of intervention such as taser, pepper spray or baton,” Bourassa’s parents, Lorraine and Jean-Marc, said in a written statement to Global News.

“We are disturbed at the short timeline from the first encounter to Justin’s death, which is under two minutes,” they added.

Read more: Suspect dead after police-involved shooting near Toronto school

During their investigation, the director of the SIU, Joseph Martino, determined that the officers were not at fault in Bourassa’s death, finding no “reasonable grounds” to file charges.

“Director Martino concluded that the evidence fell short of a reasonable conclusion that the subject official acted precipitously and without legal justification when he decided to meet a lethal threat to the other officer’s life with a resort to lethal force of his own,” the SIU statement said.

According to the analysis and director’s decision section of the SIU report, the subject officer who discharged his gun did not speak to investigators or turn over any written notes, as was his legal right.

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The SIU says a London police officer discharged his firearm at a man who was later pronounced dead in hospital. Scott Monich/Global News

As a result, Martino said “it is difficult to assess what if any thought he gave to these tactics,” saying that he was unsure in determining whether or not non-lethal force was used during the struggle.

“We understand that there is a large vacuum in the report because the officer in question did not have to come forward and cooperate,” Lorraine and Jean-Marc Bourassa continued in their written statement.

The Bourassa’s added that they were surprised to hear that London police do not have car or body cameras after meeting with Martino and lead SIU investigators.

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“We understand that there will be a coroner’s inquest and there will be more details to come,” they wrote.

A coroner’s inquest is mandatory, according to the Ontario government, when a death aside from natural causes occurs while a person is in custody or being detained.

The Bourassa’s highlighted in the SIU reported that their son was not involved in the break in, possessed no weapons, and did not have any drugs or alcohol in his system.

Read more: Candlelight vigil held for Etobicoke, Ont. man killed in Markham police-involved shooting

According to an obituary published on the McKenzie Blundy Funeral Home website, Bourassa was a tennis pro and coached junior players to an elite level at the Sarnia Tennis Club.

His family has set up a foundation to promote the development of youth tennis through scholarships in Sarnia-Lambton.

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