Peel officer was acting in self-defence when he shot and killed D’Andre Campbell, 26, SIU says

·3 min read

Ontario’s police watchdog has ruled that a Peel police officer was acting in self-defence when he shot and killed a 26-year-old mentally ill Brampton man who was armed with a knife.

On Monday, Special Investigations Unit director Joseph Martino concluded that at the time of his death, D’Andre Campbell’s was “clearly unwell and not of sound mind when he picked up a knife and brandished it” at two Peel police officers following a call for a domestic disturbance inside a Brampton home on shortly before 6 p.m. on April 6.

According to the SIU account, the officers found Campbell in the kitchen holding a knife. After a struggle in which both officers fired their Tasers but failed to subdue Campbell, one of the officers shot him twice in the abdomen. Campbell was pronounced dead at the scene

“I have no reasonable grounds based on the foregoing analysis to believe the (subject officer) acted other than lawfully in his interaction with Mr. Campbell, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case,” Martino concluded.

“I have little doubt that the (subject officer) believed he was acting in self-defence, and perhaps in defence of his partner, when he discharged his firearm at Mr. Campbell,” he wrote.

The officer who killed Campbell refused to be interviewed by the SIU, which is the legal right of all officers facing criminal investigation. The SIU does not identify officers who are cleared of charges.

In a statement, Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah called Campbell’s death “a rare and tragic situation,” adding that the majority of calls involving people in a mental health crisis are resolved peacefully.

“We understand the feelings of loss, grief and pain in our community because of this tragedy,” Duraiappah said. “No one wanted this terrible outcome for Mr. Campbell.”

Although he concluded charges were not warranted, Martino highlighted problems with how the officers handled a person they knew had a history of mental illnesses.

According to the SIU report, the officers were advised en route to the home that Campbell had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and that on an earlier police visit he had not been taking his medication and was aggressive with family members.

“Though they knew that Mr. Campbell suffered from mental illness and was likely in an agitated condition, they did not confer with each other about the approach they would take once inside the home,” Martino wrote. “Moreover, once in the kitchen, the (subject officer) immediately began to order Mr. Campbell to put the knife down. At no point was there any effort made to verbally calm Mr. Campbell.”

Despite this finding, Martino noted the SIU’s mandate does not cover questions of how police should best respond to mental health crises. “Care must be taken to ensure that the inquiry remains focused on the conduct of the individuals, not the merits or failings of the system within which they operate,” he wrote.

In his statement, Duraiappah also underscored mental health service gaps.

“There are gaps in the human services systems that must be addressed or we will face similar tragic circumstances again in the future,” he said.

This year, Peel Regional police launched Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Teams that which pairs crisis workers with uniform officers.

Under current legislation, police officers are the only ones who can apprehend a person in crisis and take them to the hospital.

Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star