No criminal charges in fatal shooting of gunman who took hostages inside Vaughan bank, SIU says
York Regional Police officers 'acted to preserve the lives of many,' director finds in report
The director of Ontario's police watchdog has ruled no criminal charges will be laid in connection with the shooting death of an armed man who held a dozen people hostage while trying to rob a Vaughan bank last December.
The gunman, 25, walked into a Royal Bank of Canada branch at the corner of Major MacKenzie Drive West and Dufferin Street with what appeared to be a bomb on the afternoon of Dec. 13, 2017, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said.
"He was carrying a backpack-style bag and alerted the bank's occupants that he had explosives in the bag and attached to his body," the SIU report found.
He ordered everyone to lie on the floor and appeared to be armed with a semi-automatic handgun.
The man then locked the entrance of the bank and ordered a worker to tie up everyone inside.
The reports says the man ordered a customer to call 911 and inform police "unless [they] delivered a quantity of best-quality 'crystal meth' to the back and put the United States' President, Donald Trump on the telephone with him, he would detonate his body-worn explosives."
When officers arrived at the scene, York Regional Police said they needed "lethal force" to gain control of the situation inside the bank, sneaking in a secondary door to get as many employees and patrons out as they could before firing their guns.
"The situation inside the bank was both volatile and dangerous," the SIU said in the report.
The man had taken 13 hostages during the ordeal, according to police, noting officers were given authorization to "eliminate the threat" when they were able to "get a clear and unobstructed shot."
Four officers shot the man in the head, the SIU said, noting he didn't have a chance to return gunfire or detonate the explosives. He died at the scene.
Officers 'acted to preserve the lives of many': SIU
Eight SIU investigators and four forensic investigators interviewed 15 witnesses and six other officers to assess whether there was enough evidence to warrant charges against the officers.
"It would have been foolish and reckless for the police officers to risk the lives of not only the 13 hostages, but the innumerable others in the area who could be injured or killed, by waiting to see if a shot was actually fired from the weapon in the possession of the Complainant," SIU director Tony Loparco said in the report.
"I find that risk was not one that the police should have had to have taken."
According to the Criminal Code, Loparco stated, the officers "acted to preserve the lives of many" and therefore the use of lethal force was justified.