Officer who fatally shot man in parking lot 'justified in self-defence,' says police watchdog

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There will be no charges filed against an officer who shot a 30-year-old man in a Best Western Plus hotel parking lot in northwest Toronto, says Ontario's police watchdog.

The Special Investigative Unit (SIU) opened an investigation last year after a man died on April 30, 2020 outside the hotel in the Finch Avenue West and Norfinch Drive area. In a report released Tuesday, the SIU found that the officer's behaviour was "justified in self-defence."

Toronto police had responded to a 911 report of a white man with short hair armed with a knife and a handgun sitting in a black BMW in the parking lot of the hotel, the report says.

The call later was found to be from the cell phone number registered to the same man in the BMW.

When two police cruisers arrived, the man got out of his car and began approaching the officers with a long kitchen knife. He "neared to within about a metre" when he was shot, the report says.

"At that distance, the officer had every reason to believe that his life was in imminent peril and that shooting the Complainant was necessary if he was going to protect himself from a knife attack," wrote Joseph Martino, director of the SIU, an arm's length agency that investigates incidents involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.

The officer shot the man three times, twice in the abdomen and a third time in his right shoulder. Paramedics arrived and tried to resuscitate him, but he died at the scene.

The SIU gathered evidence that suggested that the man who was killed suffered from mental illness at the time.

"Be that as it may, the [officer] would have had no knowledge of mental illness being a factor at play as he made his way to the scene and confronted the Complainant," Martino wrote.

"The entire interaction from start to finish was over in a matter of seconds."

The SIU interviewed four witnesses and received notes from four officers who were at the scene, but the officer who fired the weapon declined to submit notes or appear for an interview.

The SIU also reviewed CCTV footage and items from the scene for analysis, according to the report.