SIU clears Peel officer in shooting of 16-year-old bank robbery suspect

·2 min read

Ontario’s police watchdog has found that a Peel Regional police officer acted lawfully in the November 2019 shooting of a teen police say was in the process of robbing a Mississauga bank. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) ruled that there is no reasonable grounds to believe that the officer committed a criminal offence when he shot the armed 16-year-old in the lower back. According to the SIU, the teen had demanded cash from staff at an HSBC location on Dundas Street East, and the officer confronted him while he was masked, armed with a firearm and carrying a backpack full of cash. “I am unable to reasonably conclude that the (subject officer’s) resort to lethal force fell outside the limits of legal justification,” SIU director Joseph Martino wrote. The suspect suffered significant internal injuries in the incident. According to the SIU account, the officer and three other officers were in the area shortly before 4 p.m. on Nov. 26, 2016, when a motorist alerted them to the robbery nearby inside the Chinese Centre. The SIU states the teenager, donning a hooded-jacket over his head and his face covered with a black t-shirt had walked into the bank brandishing a semi-automatic pistol. A bank employee offered up some cash and coins to the teen, who took the money and demanded more, states the SIU’s report. The officers entered the bank with their firearms drawn, prompting the teen to run toward the west wall of the bank. The subject officer fired a single shot striking the teen in the lower mid-back. Still standing after being shot, the teen dropped his firearm, then was taken to the floor and handcuffed. Police later discovered that the weapon was not loaded, “which is of no consequence,” Martino wrote. “It was an actual firearm which the subject officer would have had every reason to believe was loaded and ready to be fired in the hands of the (teenager).” Martino made special note of the fact that although the gunshot wound to the teen’s back could suggest he was facing away from the officers, he had ignored police commands to remain still and posed an immediate risk to people in the bank. The subject officer declined to interview with the SIU or authorize the release of his notes, as is his legal right.

Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic

Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star