SIU called in after man fatally shot by Toronto police probing missing persons case

·2 min read
Toronto police have taped off part of George Street as they investigate.
Toronto police have taped off part of George Street as they investigate.

(Spencer Gallichan-Lowe/CBC - image credit)

Ontario's police watchdog is investigating after a man was fatally shot by police in downtown Toronto overnight.

According to a news release from the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Toronto police officers went to an apartment building at 291 George St., near Dundas Street East, at around 3:30 a.m. for an investigation.

"Shortly after, officers entered a 3rd floor apartment unit and became involved in an interaction with a resident of the unit," the news release reads. "Two officers discharged their firearms and the man was struck."

The man was taken to hospital, and he was pronounced dead at 4:17 a.m. Toronto paramedics initially said they were called to the building around 3:50 a.m. for reports that a man had been badly injured.

Speaking from the scene, interim Toronto police Chief James Ramer said officers were attending the building as part of a missing persons investigation.

"The SIU has invoked its mandate so there is very little I can say," Ramer told reporters.

Sources with knowledge of the case say police were at the building following up on a tip about a missing woman.

According to those sources, a witness claims to have seen a man removing garbage bags — described as "bloody" — from the building. Sources confirm that the man is the victim in the police shooting now under investigation by the SIU.

'Simultaneous homicide investigation'

Ramer, for his part, also said there will be "a simultaneous homicide investigation" linked to the incident, and that's on top of the SIU investigation into the death of the man shot by police.

On Tuesday afternoon, police put out a news release saying investigators believe a person at the location died "under suspicious circumstances." Investigators say they do not yet know if the person who died was the missing woman they had been searching for.

"A body has not yet been located and investigators continue to carry out inquiries to establish the full circumstances," the news release reads. Police are now asking anyone in the area between Feb. 19 and Feb. 21 who saw or heard anything suspicious to contact investigators.

A police spokesperson also said in an email that this "remains a missing person investigation" and they will not confirm the name of that person at this stage "out of respect for the family."

"More information will be released when available and appropriate to do so," the spokesperson said.

Five investigators and three forensic investigators have been assigned to the case, the SIU says. The agency added in the news release that two officers are being investigated, and seven witnesses have been designated.

Anyone with information about the investigation is also being asked to contact the SIU at 1-800-787-8529. The agency is asking anyone with video linked to the incident to upload it through its website.