SIU releases report on fatal shooting of an Orangeville man during hostage incident

July 22, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has cleared officers of wrongdoing in a fatal shooting of an Orangeville man during a hostage situation in March.

The province’s police watchdog, which investigates incidents involving police where a serious injury or death has occurred, launched an investigation after a 54-year-old man holding family members hostage, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Dufferin OPP officers were investigated for criminal negligence causing death. The issue was to whether there was lack of care in the how police conducted the operation that caused or contributed to the man’s death.

Director of the SIU, Joseph Martino said in his view there was not.

Martino in the SIU report said there is nothing in the evidence to suggest officers performed in anyway other than in concern for the safety and lives of those inside the house. He noted how officers, over the course of ten hours, wisely set up a perimeter outside the home to ensure others in the vicinity were not placed in danger.

Dufferin OPP responded to a call shortly before midnight on Friday (March 19) at a home on Wellington Street in Orangeville.

According to the report, the 54-year-old man shot his estranged wife’s boyfriend and was holed up in the residence in possession of a shotgun, threatening to shoot himself with his estranged spouse and son as hostages.

The estranged wife said he had planned to shoot himself, but not harm her or their son.

Martino said police were obligated to do what they could to prevent any further harm coming to anybody and safely arrest the man.

Officers from the Dufferin Crime Unit, and the OPP Integrated Response Team, which includes the Emergency Response Unit (ERT) and Rescue Unit (TRU), Canine Unit and OPP Crisis Negotiators were called to assist with the hostage incident.

Martino said it appeared that the necessary resources were quickly posted to the incident.

Around 2:30 a.m. trained negotiators made effort to speak to the man, and when he refused to answer his phone, a loud hailer was used to attempt communication. Becoming less receptive to speaking with officers, the man indicated he would not hurt his family, but intended to shoot himself.

The estranged wife previously told police the man had a history of mental illness.

An action plan was developed in consultation with TRU leaders, which called for officers to force entry in the event they received information suggesting imminent danger in the home. After receiving a text message from the estranged wife that the man had gone into the basement, police were directed to enter the residence and remove the spouse and son.

Police deployed a camera into the basement after officers hear the sound of a gunshot. The man was found deceased.

“In the result, as I am satisfied for the foregoing reasons that the police operation under the SO’s [Subject Official’s] command was professionally managed and executed, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the subject official transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law,” wrote Martino. “Accordingly, there is no basis for proceeding with criminal charges in this case, and the file is closed.”

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