Investigation clears OPP in AOK death

Expositor file photo

MISSISSAUGA – Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has closed the file on an investigation in connection with the death of a 43-year-old man, formerly of Little Current, in Aundeck Omni Kaning on November 2020. On November 28, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers responded to a report of a man who had armed himself with a rifle during a domestic dispute. Multiple attempts to reach the man were made by a trained negotiator. Officers later located the man in the home, where he had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

According to the SIU final report, a 911 call was made from a residence in Aundeck Omni Kaning during a domestic incident on the evening of November 27, 2020. A man in the household had possession of a firearm. The call taker directed the caller and other family members to vacate the residence. 

Members of the UCCM Anishinaabe Police Service were first to arrive at the scene, followed soon after by OPP uniform and tactical officers. A command post was set up and the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and the Tactical Response Unit (TRU) were deployed, as were crisis negotiators and criminal investigators. 

The officers involved in the operation around the home were “at all times lawfully placed and in the execution of their lawful duties,” Director Martino wrote in his decision. They had responded to the residence following an emergency call to police reporting that the complainant had armed himself with a rifle in the course of a domestic dispute. “The police had cause to be concerned about the complainant’s safety and the safety of others in the vicinity, and were duty bound to try to resolve the situation as peacefully as possible.” 

Officers were quick to arrive and mobilize and the residence contained. They were assured that the complainant was the only person in the home. A trained negotiator attempted to reach the complainant, who did not respond to multiple attempts to contact him by phone. The use of detonation devices also failed to elicit a response from inside the home. 

With growing concern about the complainant’s well-being as time passed, the officer (under SIU investigation) decided a more proactive approach was warranted. Director Martino found no fault with the officer’s timing or for not having moved quicker. “The officers were faced with an armed individual and were entitled to approach the situation with great caution, exhausting measures that could be undertaken from a safe distance before taking a more aggressive approach.”

When a TRU officer approached the home, he noted the complainant’s body on the floor. The complainant could not be resuscitated by paramedics. 

“I am satisfied that the Subject Officer (SO) and the officers under the SO’s command acted with due care and regard for the complainant’s health and welfare throughout the police operation notwithstanding the fact they were unable to prevent him taking his own life,” Director Martino concluded. “Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case and the file is closed.”

The SIU is civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.