Babak Saidi was shot 5 times at close range, expert tells inquest

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Babak Saidi, 43, was shot to death at the Morrisburg, Ont., OPP detachment on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017. (Submitted by Elly Saidi/Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Babak Saidi, 43, was shot to death at the Morrisburg, Ont., OPP detachment on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017. (Submitted by Elly Saidi/Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Babak Saidi was shot at close range five times by an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) constable during an attempted arrest in 2017, a forensic expert told the coroner's inquest into Saidi's death.

Saidi, 43, died at the OPP detachment in Morrisburg, Ont., on Dec. 23, 2017, after an attempted arrest during his mandatory weekly check-in — a condition of a 2014 conviction.

Ontario's police watchdog investigated and found there were no reasonable grounds to lay criminal charges against the officer who shot Saidi.

Liam Hendrikse, a forensic ballistics consultant who works across North America, told the inquest Monday the video and forensic evidence available to him limited what he could say about which gunshots caused which wounds and their order.

The beginning of the struggle between Saidi and the two officers was recorded on videos, shown at the inquest, in which it appears Saidi is wrestled to the ground, but continues to resist.

The struggle continues out of frame and there is no sound when the shots are fired.

Hendrikse pointed to the impact of fired bullets in the snow, off a brick wall and the ejection of cartridge casings to draw some of his conclusions about when shots were fired.

He told the inquest Saidi advanced, apparently on his knees toward an officer who had his back to a wall. The officer fired two rounds, piercing Saidi's right arm and left thigh.

As the struggle continued, Saidi was shot three times in the back, Hendrikse said.

Once with the gun less than two feet away from him, another time with the gun's muzzle against him and the final time as the officer got up, he said.

The shots were fired over the course of about six seconds, according to his analysis.

Angelina Ouimet
Angelina Ouimet

Dr. Charis Kepron, the forensic pathologist who conducted the postmortem, told the inquest last week three of Saidi's gunshot wounds would've been fatal individually as they pierced major organs in his chest.

Trainers discuss use of force

On Monday, the inquest heard in greater detail what kind of training police officers in Ontario receive about the use of force — including their firearms.

Mike Girard, an instructor at the Ontario Police College, said officers are trained on pulling out their guns in close quarters and during grappling to avoid it being taken by a subject.

Girard said officers are also trained to aim for the centre of the upper torso because it's a bigger target, there's less risk of a bullet passing through and striking someone else and it's a quicker way to stop or slow someone.

Officers are taught to stop firing once they've stopped a threat of serious bodily harm or death, he said.

However, Girard also explained the Ontario Use of Force Model, which is used as training aide, includes lethal force as a response to the threat of serious bodily harm or death.

Girard suggested the model could be improved with a more explicit mention of de-escalation and examples of de-escalation tactics.

Submitted by Elly Saidi
Submitted by Elly Saidi

He said the vast majority of police interactions do not involve force or violence and a more neutral term should be considered for the model.

Sgt. Daniel Loney, an OPP trainer, said officers are required to go through a re-certification training process every year that includes courses on firearms, batons, conducted energy weapons, pepper spray and judgment training, which explores several policing scenarios.

Loney said that on three-year cycles, officers are given a 90-minute course touching on de-escalation and mental health issues, and that those topics are revisited in training scenarios every year.

The coroner's inquest is charged with finding recommendations to improve how police handle arrests of people who are potentially violent or have mental health issues.

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