SIU clears OPP in fatal Maitland shooting
Ontario Provincial Police have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of Matthew Roke in Maitland, Ont., about 100 kilometres south of Ottawa, in May.
The Special Investigations Unit said Wednesday that "there are no reasonable grounds to charge an OPP officer with a criminal offence" following its investigation.
The SIU conducts criminal investigations into incidents involving police and civilians that result in serious injury, death or allegations of sexual assault.
According to a statement issued by the SIU, on May 2, police were called to the home of Roke's parents on Concession Road 2 near Maitland Road in Augusta Township at about 12:45 a.m. ET.
His parents said Roke, who has a history of mental illness, had threatened to kill them with a knife.
Roke 'did not intend to comply,' SIU says
Four officers from the OPP's Prescott detachment responded, but couldn't find Roke when they arrived. They left just before 6 a.m.
Shortly afterwards Roke's mother called police again to say Roke was at the front door, and the same four officers came back to the home. They found Roke sitting on the front steps of the home with his hands in his pockets, and police drew their guns.
An officer asked Roke to show his hands and toss any weapon he had, and Roke "made it clear that he did not intend to comply."
He then stood up and displayed a knife.
Officers not equipped with Tasers
The officer continued to ask him to drop it, but Roke refused. Police used pepper spray, to no avail. The officers were not equipped with Tasers.
Roke then walked west and the officers followed. When he was about 25 feet ahead of the officers he turned around and shouted that he hated police, and "just shoot me!", while moving toward the officers.
He then stopped about 15 to 20 feet in front of the officers, made threatening remarks, lunged at one of the officers and made "spearing" motions.
The officer fired, along with another officer. One fired three times and the other fired twice. Four bullets hit Roke.
"In my view, the fatal shooting of Mr. Roke by the two subject officers was justified in law. They had received credible information that Mr. Roke was armed with a knife and had threatened his family members with serious bodily harm," SIU director Ian Scott was quoted saying in a press release.
"While it is unclear which subject officer discharged the fatal shot, one of the officers reasonably feared for his life given the fact that he was the closest to Mr. Roke at the point of discharge. The other officer could have reasonably feared for the safety of his partner, given his viewing of what was likely an imminent strike at the fellow officer."