The Special Investigations Unit says there are no grounds to lay charges against officers who participated in an arrest that ended when a Toronto man shot himself in the head.
On the evening of March 17, 2013, police moved in to arrest Zoltan Hyacinth in the drive-thru of a Burger King restaurant near Keele Street and Wilson Avenue, in Toronto.
In a news release issued Wednesday, the SIU described the series of events that unfolded and the reasons why it concluded the police officers involved in the arrest are not criminally liable in Hyacinth's death.
The SIU says that police had been investigating Hyacinth in connection with a robbery in which he was considered a suspect.
The 23-year-old Toronto man had been put under surveillance prior to the night of his death, and police determined that Hyacinth had a gun.
Hyacinth 'boxed in' at drive-thru
Hyacinth entered the drive-thru of the Burger King and stopped at the speaker box to order food. A passenger was riding in his Pontiac Sunfire with him.
The SIU says that unmarked vehicles then "boxed in" Hyacinth's vehicle and 12 plainclothes officers approached his car. The people inside the car were told they were being arrested.
The passenger riding along with Hyacinth was "quickly apprehended without incident," the SIU says.
But the SIU says Hyacinth "refused to leave his vehicle and initially tried to place his foot on the gas pedal in an apparent attempt to push one of the police vehicles out of the way."
Officers then pulled Hyacinth from his seat, as one officer unbuckled him and another tried to pull his legs from the vehicle.
"The struggle was intense enough that a nearby CCTV security video recording depicted the Sunfire shaking up and down for a protracted period," the SIU says.
Once Hyacinth was out of the car, a police officer yelled, "He's got a gun!" and the suspect was forced to the ground.
The SIU says that officer then heard two shots fired, and Hyacinth's body went limp.
When other officers tried to handcuff Hyacinth, "it was obvious that he had sustained at least one firearm wound to his head."
Officers performed CPR on Hyacinth before he was taken to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Gun recovered at scene
A Ruger semi-automatic pistol was recovered at the scene. The SIU says that forensic testing has determined that three bullets were fired from the firearm at that time and those cartridge casings were recovered from the scene.
The police present during the arrest were armed with Glock handguns.
The SIU says that after reviewing all the evidence from officers, the scene and from recorded video, the most likely scenario of events is that Hyacinth pulled out the gun when he was outside the vehicle. But when he fired, he ended up shooting himself.
"Hyacinth discharged the gun three times in quick succession as it was pointed in a northerly direction almost parallel to the ground, presumably in an attempt to shoot one or more officers involved in his arrest. Instead of effecting his purpose, he shot himself in the head, causing his own demise," the SIU says.
The SIU investigates all incidents involving police in which allegations of sexual assault are raised, or when death or serious injury occur.