Criminal charges will not be laid against a pair of Toronto police officers who shot a woman in crisis last November, several times.
The Special Investigations Unit maintains there are no reasonable grounds to do so, and that the use of force was justified.
Late last year, police were called out to a home on Edmonton Drive, in the Highway 404 and Finch Avenue area, around 10:30 p.m.
They were met by a woman who was holding a meat cleaver, 17 cms long and 7 cms wide, and she was in the kitchen with her son, who was visibly upset and crying.
Paramedics had indicated to officers she had run at them screaming, with the knife in her hand.
When police confronted the woman in the kitchen, she ignored their calls to drop the weapon, and rushed at them.
That’s when two of the officers fired off three shots each at the woman, who was taken to hospital with serious injuries to her abdomen, pelvis and right arm.
“Section 34 of the Criminal Code prescribes the law of self-defence in Canada. It provides that a person who acts to defend himself or herself from force or the threat of force is not guilty of an offence so long as the impugned conduct was reasonable in the circumstances. The evidence, in my view, reasonably establishes that the shooting and the conducted energy weapon discharge fell within the four corners of the provision. While the woman was clearly not of sound mind at the time on the day in question, she clearly represented a real and present danger to herself and others. To her credit, recognizing her own faltering capacities, she attempted to seek help for herself and protection for those around her when she called 911 and asked for an ambulance. Regrettably, by the time of the paramedics’ arrival, her mental condition had taken a turn for the worse and she attacked the very people who were there to help her. As the officers arrived on scene, they had every reason to be concerned for their safety and the well-being of the woman and her son. By that time, they knew she had charged at the paramedics with a knife. Knowing as well that the woman’s son was with his mother in the home, and that she had earlier threatened her son’s life, as well as her own, the officers were within their rights when they entered the kitchen and confronted her. Not more than a minute following their entry, during which time they repeatedly directed the woman to drop the knife, she rushed at the officers with the knife in hand from a distance no greater than three metres and was shot as she neared to within a couple of metres of the officers. Another officer also deployed his CEW just before the gunfire erupted. On this record, it is difficult to find fault with the conduct of the officers. There can be no doubt that the knife wielded by the woman was capable of inflicting grievous or deadly injuries. Confronted with a potentially lethal knife attack, and with only fractions of a second to react as the woman rushed in their direction with the knife in hand, I am satisfied that the officers legitimately believed their lives to be in imminent peril and acted reasonably to defend themselves when they discharged their weapons. For the foregoing reasons, the officers’ use of force was legally justified in my view and there are therefore no grounds for proceeding with charges in this case.” – Acting Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Joseph Martino