Nearly a year after a baby was killed by OPP gunfire, SIU says its ‘major’ investigation needs more time

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Just days away from the anniversary of an Ontario provincial police officer fatally shooting a child and his father during an alleged child abduction, the province’s police watchdog is yet to make a decision about criminal charges in its highest-profile cases. Haven’t taken

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In a statement on Tuesday, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) said it is in the final stages of a “major” investigation – but nearly 365 days since the unprecedented fatal police shooting of a child, the watchdog has not resolved the case. And can’t say when it will happen.

“I think the public has reason to be concerned about delays in a case like this,” said Christine Menville, a Toronto attorney who spoke on an all-encompassing 2017 review of police oversight by Ontario Court of Appeals Justice Michael Tulloch. Worked as a lawyer.

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While acknowledging that the matter may have been particularly complicated – according to details released by the SIU over the past year, the shootings took place on an apparently chaotic route in which one officer was also seriously injured – yet The probe is taking “too long”. Time, Menville told Granthshala, was an issue identified in the review by Tulloch, taking into account the length of the watchdog investigation. He stressed that these investigations should not be rushed, “but the longer it takes, of course the more reporting to the public is needed.”

Friday marks the one-year anniversary since the shooting of 18-month-old Jameson Shapiro, when OPP opened fire on his father’s truck in Kavartha Lakes (SIU has not released the boy’s identity, but Star The boy’s 33-year-old father was also shot and later died in hospital.

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The shootings by three OPP officers on November 26, 2020 were the chaotic culmination of a call to the police, in which a father kidnapped his son from the municipality of Trent Lake near Bobkeygon. According to the SIU, after police tracked the father’s truck on a rural road in Kavartha lakes, it collided with an OPP cruiser and another vehicle, seriously injuring an OPP officer who was wearing a spike belt. Was. After this the officers opened fire on the truck.

For about three months after the shooting, it was initially unclear who had shot the child, and the SIU initially observed that a handcuff was found inside the father’s truck. In February, the watchdog confirmed that forensic evidence, including trajectory and analysis of blood, had determined that the child had been shot by police.

In an update on the progress of the investigation on Tuesday, SIU spokeswoman Christie Dennett said the SIU has received the results of its rare request to provide forensic reports to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The watchdog announced in August that it had tapped the US agency to provide “exclusive, out-of-country forensic examination of certain ballistic evidence”.

“The SIU is reviewing the FBI’s forensic report and is actively investigating this tragic case,” the SIU said in a release Tuesday.

In a statement to the Star, Dennett acknowledged that the investigation is “taking time to complete” and that the watchdog is committed to conducting a thorough and thorough investigation. The investigation is a “large investigation requiring dozens of interviews and complex forensic examinations,” she said.

“I cannot commit to a specific deadline to complete at this time, except that the SIU investigation is in its final stages and staff are working as quickly as possible to look into it,” she said.

Dennett confirmed that the SIU had not interviewed the three policemen who opened fire. The SIU has requested a statement from him in a letter designating him as the subject officer, Dennett said, but “there is no date for any officer to proceed to make the statement.”

Officers who are the subject of a criminal investigation by the SIU are not legally required to speak to the agency.

In a statement on the Star Tuesday, Rob Stinson, president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association, whose union represents officers under investigation, said it “respects the process of the SIU investigation and continues to support our affected members.” .

“We continue to keep in our thoughts the mother and family of the little boy, who tragically died,” Stinson said.

Menville said it is clear that SIU is attempting to keep the public informed of progress through updates on the investigation — information that may not have been released in the past. The practice of frequent updates on the SIU investigation was a recommendation of the Tulok Review.

Last year, a new SIU Act came into force requiring SIUs to complete an investigation within 120 days or provide public notice that the investigation was ongoing. After 120 days, the watchdog “will make a public statement respecting the status of the investigation every 30 days,” according to the law.

But the reporting requirements don’t apply to shooting Kavartha Lakes because it happened just days before the new law came into force.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter who covers crime and policing for Star. Reach him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @wendygillis
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