Ontario's police watchdog is not recommending criminal charges against an Ottawa police tactical officer who used an anti-riot weapon on a man threatening to harm himself this summer.
According to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), officers were dispatched to a home on Claremont Drive in Ottawa's Manor Park neighbourhood July 4 after reports of a disturbance. A man was found to be breaching his conditions not to communicate with someone.
The man refused to leave, threatened to harm himself if officers entered and said he had a gun, according to the SIU. Officers noticed the man had an apparent self-inflicted wound to his neck.
An "interaction" ensued and an officer discharged an ARWEN (Anti Riot Weapon ENfield). The weapon, which is classified as a firearm, can launch a variety of projectiles including plastic bullets, tear gas and less-lethal batons.
The man was taken into custody and to hospital. The projectile did not appear to cause him any serious injury, the SIU said.
In a report sent out Tuesday, the SIU's director Joseph Martino wrote that tactical officers entered the front door of the home. One of them — the officer under investigation — shot the man in the thigh after he refused to come down a flight of stairs and threw something at police.
The man ran away and managed to cut himself before officers took him to the floor, handcuffed him and turned him over to paramedics outside.
He was treated in hospital and eventually gave an interview to the SIU, along with one of three witnesses and four of the nine officers who responded to the call. The officer under investigation didn't talk to the SIU or share his notes.
Martino wrote that officers had the authority to take the man into custody both for breaching his conditions and under the Mental Health Act for saying he would harm himself.
He said using the ARWEN was reasonable because the man said he had weapons and officers were trying to safely, temporarily neutralize him from a distance.
The unit invokes its mandate to investigate police conduct that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault or the discharge of a firearm at a person. It can recommend criminal charges.