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SIU clears OPP officer following January standoff

Investigation launched after several ARWEN (Anti Riot Weapon ENfield) rounds fired at Complainant, says SIU
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Following an investigation, the director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has cleared an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer involved in a standoff that took place in Sault Ste. Marie.

In a news release issued today, the SIU reports that several ARWEN (Anti Riot Weapon ENfield) rounds were fired at the Complainant during the Jan. 8 incident.

According to the SIU director's report

"The OPP advised that, at 2 p.m., OPP police officers responded to a threatening with a knife call by a neighbour of the Complainant’s. The Complainant had made several threats in the previous days that he would like to die at the hands of the police. When OPP officers arrived, the Complainant barricaded himself in his home. OPP Emergency Response Team (ERT) officers arrived and set up on the residence. An OPP negotiator contacted the Complainant by phone and, a short time later, he came out of the residence. The Complainant approached his vehicle and a knife could be seen. At 5:22 p.m., the Complainant refused to drop the knife and the Subject Official (SO) discharged his ARWEN four times at the Complainant.

"The Complainant refused medical treatment at the scene, and indicated that his chest and back hurt. One or more ARWEN rounds may have struck the Complainant.

"The Complainant was transported to the Sault Area Hospital (SAH) for a Mental Health Act (MHA) assessment."

Full text of the SIU news release follows:

On Jan. 8, 2021, following a standoff at his home in Sault Ste. Marie with Ontario Provincial Police officers, a 60-year-old man was taken into custody. Though the man did not suffer any serious injuries in the course of the arrest, he was struck by several ARWEN (Anti Riot Weapon ENfield) rounds.

Accordingly, the SIU opened a file on the basis of its relatively new mandate under the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019 to investigate firearm discharges at persons. The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Joseph Martino, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the shooting.

Full director’s report (with incident narrative, evidence, and analysis and director’s decision) can be read here.

The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of officials (police officers as well as special constables with the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service) that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must:
    •    consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
    •    depending on the evidence, cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official where grounds exist for doing so, or close the file without any charges being laid
    •    publicly report the results of its investigations