SIU finds no grounds to charge officer in double-fatal Gore Bay shooting

MISSISSAUGA – Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates the conduct of officials such as police officers and peace officers independently from police forces in the province, has determined there are no reasonable grounds to believe that Provincial Constable (PC) Marc Hovingh committed a criminal offence in connection with civilian Gary Brohman’s death on November 19, 2020.

“The shootout cost the officer his life as well. Notwithstanding the fact that (PC) Hovingh had succumbed to his wounds, the SIU commenced an investigation as the incident included a death at the hands of a police officer,” stated a press release announcing the completion of a report into the incident.

Analysis of the incident found that PC Hovingh’s actions constituted self-defence under the provisions of the Criminal Code, after the officer entered Mr. Brohman’s trailer and that man fired at the officer.

“The officer’s life was manifestly in jeopardy at the time, as his subsequent passing due to shotgun wounds to the leg confirmed. And nothing short of a firearm would have provided the sort of rapid and immediately incapacitating effect that was imperative if (PC) Hovingh was to have any chance of saving his life. Withdrawal or disengagement was not an option largely because neither was available to (PC) Hovingh,” the report stated.

The report did not evaluate the question of whether the officers were lawfully inside the trailer at the time of the shootings. Although police officers cannot force their way into a home for an arrest without a warrant, and both PC Hovingh and another officer entered the trailer without such a warrant, the trailer was set up “unlawfully on land” owned by another person and the officers had reason to believe Mr. Brohman “was engaged in an illegal marijuana grow operation.”

However, Mr. Brohman did not have any entitlement to use lethal force against police officers, and once he fired a shotgun at PC Hovingh, the officers were entitled to defend themselves, the report stated.

The report continued that there were “dozens of improvised explosives and incendiary materials on the property, and numerous firearms inside the trailer.”

“In the result, I am satisfied for the foregoing reasons that (PC) Hovingh conducted himself lawfully throughout his engagement with Mr. Brohman, justifiably resorting to lethal force that resulted in Mr. Brohman’s death at the same time as he too suffered mortal gunshot wounds. The file is closed,” the report concluded.

The Expositor will have further information on this file in a coming edition.