SIU finds 'no basis' to proceed with criminal charges in death of D'Andre Campbell

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says there is "no basis" to proceed with criminal charges in the death of 26-year-old D'Andre Campbell, who was shot and killed by a Peel Regional Police officer in April while inside his family's home in Brampton, Ont. 

26-year-old Campbell was shot by Peel police officer at his family's Brampton,Ont., home

D'Andre Campbell, 26, was shot and killed in April 2020 inside his family's home. (Submitted by Shenika Malcolm)

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says there is "no basis" to proceed with criminal charges in the death of 26-year-old D'Andre Campbell, who was shot and killed by a Peel Regional Police officer in April while inside his family's home in Brampton, Ont. 

"The director of the Special Investigations Unit, Joseph Martino, has determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the officer committed a criminal offence in connection with Mr. Campbell's death," wrote the SIU in a news release issued Monday morning.

The SIU is a civilian oversight body that investigates reports of deaths, serious injury or sexual assault involving police.

Despite its conclusion, the report does outline some issues with the way police acted, including that no attempt was made to verbally calm Campbell — a young Black man who had schizophrenia — during the confrontation. 

Campbell's is one of several prominent cases in recent months in which Peel Regional Police have shot and killed someone with mental health issues — leading their families to gather last week and demand charges be laid. 

Campbell holding a knife when police arrived

According to the SIU report, Peel police officers arrived at the home at about 5:30 p.m. on April 6, 2020, after Campbell called them there to help with an argument he was having with his parents. 

They found him "fighting with his mother" and holding a knife inside the kitchen. 

"Mr. Campbell became violent towards the officers and they both attempted to subdue him with Conducted Energy Weapons (CEWs)," the report says. "This was ineffective and the [officer] drew his firearm and shot Mr. Campbell." 

He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

In Martino's decision, he said he believes the officer's actions are protected under Section 34 of the Criminal Code, which "provides that a person may use force to repel a reasonably apprehended attack, actual or threatened." 

"There is a strong case to be made that the [officer] reasonably believed that he needed to fire his gun to protect himself against the imminent risk of a knife attack at the hands of Mr. Campbell," he said.

Differing accounts on whether Campbell stepped forward

The SIU report says there are "discrepant accounts" on whether Campbell moved toward the police officers in the moment before he was shot. 

Two of his siblings told the SIU that he was standing in place when the shots were fired. The other officer says he took "one or two deliberate steps" in their direction. 

"I accept that there is some evidence to reasonably conclude that Mr. Campbell had not in fact advanced," said Martino.

He later said he still thinks that, whether or not the steps were taken, the officer could have believed he was in danger.

Martino says that while the SIU is meant only to decide whether or not there are "reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence has been committed," there is still some "legitimate criticism" to be made of the police's actions. 

The two Peel officers arrived at the home knowing that Campbell had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder but failed to "confer with each other" about how best to handle the situation. 

Once they were inside and in the kitchen with him, "at no point was there any effort made to verbally calm Mr. Campbell," writes Martino. 

Campbell's family described him as big-hearted and positive, full of plans for the future. (Submitted by Claudius Campbell)

In an interview with The Fifth Estate's Mark Kelley in June, Campbell's mother, Yvonne Campbell, questioned why the officers weren't better prepared to speak to her son — especially given the fact that police had come "four or five times" on previous occasions and taken him to the hospital. 

"It's not the first time they come to the house for D'Andre," she said. "And once they punch in his name, they should see all the information.

"To know the type of person that they're coming to deal with. To know how to handle the situation when they come to the house. Don't come and take someone's life when they are calling for help." 

Peel police chief responds 

In response to the SIU's decision, Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah released a statement calling what happened that night a "rare and tragic situation." 

"Our officers deal every day with people in crisis ... and the overwhelming majority of cases are resolved safely and peacefully," he wrote. 

Duraiappah also wrote that his police service has "developed programs to help people in crisis," including increasing the number of mobile crisis rapid response teams.

Campbell remembered as big-hearted, positive

Campbell, who was one of eight siblings, was described by his family as positive and brimming with life. 

"He always lived outside the box. He never looked at anything in a negative way,'" said his sister Michelle in an interview with the CBC in June. 

Yvonne Campbell, Tanya Campbell, Dajour Campbell, and Tajaun Campbella and others pose for a photograph during a community barbecue honouring loved ones killed by police. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press)

The Ontario NDP has also released a statement, calling for the SIU to be overhauled and saying that the Campbell family has been "denied the justice and closure they deserve." 

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.