No criminal charges for RCMP officer who shot and killed Grand Falls-Windsor man in 2021: SIRT
Officer fired 2 shots at man after Taser failed; thought man would kill woman and baby
Newfoundland and Labrador's police watchdog has concluded an investigation into the shooting death of Roy Freake in Grand Falls-Windsor in June 2021, and says the officer who killed him will not be criminally charged.
In a report released Thursday, Mike King, director of the provincial Serious Incident Response Team, wrote, "I do not consider there are reasonable grounds to believe the subject officer committed a criminal offence."
The report doesn't name Freake — instead, it refers to him as "affected person" or "AP" — but the details match the circumstances of his death in 2021. The report also doesn't name the officer, referring to him as "subject officer" or "SO."
Freake, 37, broke into his ex-girlfriend's home on Monchy Road, where she lived with her baby and 14-year-old son, in the early morning of June 11, 2021.
In the weeks after the shooting Freake's former girlfriend, Amanda Antle, told CBC News he had pressed two steak knives against her neck during the break-in. She said he was failed by the mental health and justice system.
About 12 hours before the shooting, Freake had been in police custody for breaching court orders, but was released on bail. One of his release conditions was that he had to stay out of Grand Falls-Windsor, but Antle and Freake's father said his truck had been towed, he had no way to make the trip from central Newfoundland to his parents' house on Fogo Island, and he had gone without needed medication for 24 hours.
The RCMP have not commented on the incident and have not confirmed Freake's identity.
According to a witness statement in the SIRT report, a witness, identified as AP's ex-girlfriend, said she was awakened by the sound of shattering glass and the sound of someone rummaging through the utensil drawer in the kitchen.
The report said AP kicked down the door of a bedroom, where the woman was with her boyfriend and baby. AP, says the report, had steak knives in each hand, threatened to kill them, and attacked the boyfriend.
The boyfriend fended off AP, who was lunging at his ex-girlfriend with his knives, by picking up the mattress to block him. The boyfriend, who had been cut, also called 911.
When the police arrived, beating down a door to get into the house, AP grabbed his ex-girlfriend and pulled her onto him, on the floor, using her as a shield while he held the knives to either side of her throat. He ordered the police to back off, threatening to kill her if they didn't.
One officer used a Taser, which did not incapacitate him, likely because the stun gun's probes couldn't pierce AP's layers of clothing, according to the report.
"She tried to pull the trigger again but nothing happened," reads a witness account from another police officer at the scene.
"After this, she heard the first shot coming from her left. Then she heard the second shot."
Officer believed man would stab, kill
The officer who fired the fatal shots provided SIRT a written statement through his lawyer. The statement notes AP grabbed for his ex-girlfriend while yelling that he was going to kill her.
"My client believed 100 per cent that the male was about to stab and kill the female and possibly the child," says the statement.
The officer's lawyer said his client had no choice and no time to resolve the incident in another way.
"He fired two rounds from his service pistol to stop this attempted murder," wrote the lawyer.
A use-of-force expert interviewed for the investigation said AP had the "ability, intent and means to cause death or grievous bodily harm."
"I am of the opinion [the officer]'s use of lethal force was measured and appropriate," the expert wrote.
"Had [the officer] not fired his weapon when he did, it is probable that [the man] would have been able to begin stabbing [the woman] and/or her son and perhaps [her boyfriend] as well, multiple times before any of the officers would have been able to intervene."
King said the results of the forensic examination were consistent with statements witnesses made.
In the report, the chief medical examiner says the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest, with a bullet entering his right forearm and re-entering the chest and with another shot to the right flank.