Almost a year after a baby was killed by OPP gunshots, SIU says its ‘important’ investigation needs more time

Just days after the anniversary of an Ontario Provincial Police officer who fatally shot a baby and his father during an alleged child abduction, the province’s police watchdog has yet to make a decision on the criminal charges. in one of his highest profile cases.

In a statement Tuesday, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said it is in the final stages of what it called a “major” investigation, but nearly 365 days since the unprecedented fatal shooting of a baby by the police, the watchdog has not solved the case. and I can’t say when it will.

“I think the public has legitimate reason to be concerned about the delay in a case like this,” said Christine Mainville, a Toronto attorney who served as a consultant in a 2017 general review of police oversight by the judge of the Ontario Court of Appeals, Michael Tulloch.

Recognizing that this case may be particularly complex – based on details released by the SIU over the past year, the shootings occurred at a seemingly chaotic roadblock that also left an officer seriously injured – the investigation nonetheless appears to be taking a “long time.” long time”. Mainville told the Star, noting that the duration of the watchdog probes was an issue Tulloch identified in the review. He stressed that these investigations should not be rushed, “but the longer they take, without a doubt, the more information to the public there should be.”

Friday marks the first anniversary since 18-month-old Jameson Shapiro was shot and killed when the OPP opened fire on his father’s truck in Kawartha Lakes (SIU has not released the boy’s identity, but it has been confirmed by independently by Star). The boy’s 33-year-old father was also shot and later died in hospital.

The November 26, 2020 shooting by three OPP officers was the chaotic culmination of a call to police about a father who abducted his son in Trent Lakes Township, near Bobcaygeon. According to the SIU, after police tracked the father’s truck to a country road in Kawartha Lakes, it crashed into an OPP cruiser and another vehicle, seriously injuring an OPP officer who pulled out a spike belt. The officers then opened fire on the truck.

For nearly three months after the shooting, it was initially unclear who had shot the baby, and the SIU initially noted that a handgun had been found inside the father’s truck. In February, the watchdog confirmed that forensic evidence, including trajectory analysis and bloodstains, had determined that the baby had been shot by police.

In an update on the progress of the investigation on Tuesday, SIU spokeswoman Kristy Denette said the SIU has received the results of its rare request that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provide a forensic report. The watchdog announced in August that it had turned to the US agency to provide “specialized forensic evidence outside the country of some of the ballistic evidence.”

“The SIU is reviewing the FBI forensic report and continues to actively investigate this tragic case,” the SIU said in its statement Tuesday.

In a statement to the Star, Denette acknowledged that the investigation “is taking time to complete” and that the watchdog is committed to conducting a full and thorough investigation. The investigation has been a “major investigation that has required dozens of complex forensic examinations and interviews,” he said.

“I cannot commit to a specific timeframe for completion at this time, other than to say that the SIU investigation is in its final stages and the staff are working as quickly as possible to get it done,” he said.

Denette confirmed that the SIU has not interviewed the three police officers who opened fire. The SIU has requested statements from them in the letter designating them as subject officers, Denette said, but “none of the officers to date have stepped forward to provide a statement.”

Officers who are the subject of a criminal investigation by the SIU are not legally required to speak with the agency.

In a statement to Star Tuesday, Ontario Provincial Police Association President Rob Stinson, whose union represents officers under investigation, said he “respects the SIU investigation process and continues to support our affected members.

“We keep thinking about the mother and family of the child who died tragically,” Stinson said.

Mainville said it is clear that the SIU has been making an effort to keep the public informed of progress through updates to the investigation, information that may not have been released in the past. The practice of frequent updates on IUS investigations was a recommendation of the Tulloch review.

Last year, a new SIU Law went into effect that requires the SIU to complete investigations within 120 days or notify the public that the investigation is continuing. After 120 days, the control body “must make a public statement respecting the status of the investigation every 30 days”, according to the legislation.

But the reporting requirements don’t apply to the Kawartha Lakes shooting because it happened just days before the new law took effect.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and police for The Star. Contact her by email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

Leave a Comment