Windsor

SIU clears Windsor police in March 2018 shooting death

Windsor police have been cleared of any wrongdoing in a police-involved shooting death from March 2018.

SIU investigated and cleared Windsor police

The Special Investigations Unit was called to investigate the fatal shooting of 33-year-old Matthew Mahoney in Windsor Mar. 21, 2018. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Windsor police officers involved in the shooting death of 33-year-old Matthew Mahoney have been cleared by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and no charges will be laid.

Mahoney died after being shot multiple times by Windsor police in March.

The SIU has determined the officers were justified in using lethal force against Mahoney. 

"It is clear from the call to the (Windsor Police Service) that there were reasonable grounds to believe the Complainant was behaving oddly and was possibly in possession of one or more weapons dangerous to the public peace," said Tony Loparco, SIU director, in the report signed January 31, 2019. 

March 21, 2018

According to the SIU, police were first called to the area of University Avenue and Ouellette Avenue at around 8 a.m. on March 21, regarding complaints of a man with a block of knives.

Officers found Mahoney several blocks away in the parking lot of McDonald's, located at Wyandotte Street and Goyeau Street.

After an interaction between him and officers, which left one of the officers with a knife wound to his palm, the two police officers shot Mahoney multiple times.

He was taken to hospital and pronounced dead at 9:29 a.m.

Mahoney's older brother, Michael, said Matthew had been struggling with schizophrenia and other mental health issues prior to his death. The family has been calling for a coroner's inquest.

The Mahoney family remembers Matthew as a brilliant and loving man who would listen to anyone about their own struggles. (Michael Mahoney)

What actually happened

It was determined that two police officers were involved in the shooting — and both those officers refused to be interviewed or provide their notes to SIU, which is their legal right.

The initial call came at 8:03 a.m. from the Starbucks at University and Ouellette, reporting that "a man was walking around with a set of kitchen knives and behaving strangely."

According to information provided by WPS, one officer responding to the initial call attempted to talk with Mahoney but he walked away. A second officer arrived and blocked a parking lot entrance with the police vehicle. This officer also attempted to speak to Mahoney. 

Mahoney removed a knife from the block he was carrying and "slashed" at the officer, the report said. As the officer tried to back away, he fell on the curb after backing into a half-wall. Mahoney continued to come towards him with the knife and the officer's right palm was cut.

SIU has determined that after this, the second officer tried to distract Mahoney but then fired his weapon in a "volley of shots," according to the report.

Taser deployed

As the officer backed away, he deployed his conducted energy weapon — commonly called a taser. This was ineffective. The second officer's CEW was not used.

Witness accounts

Thirty-two civilians came forward to offer evidence to SIU. Eighteen were interviewed.

One witness confirms accounts of the initial response to the call — that officers attempted to speak to Mahoney but he walked away.

Other witness statements describe Mahoney making "crossing, slashing motions at [officer's] neck with his knife," that he was "quickly advancing" on officers with a knife in his hand. 

A witness working in the nearby McDonald's drive thru heard a loud "pop" followed by two more in quick succession. 

Bill Holland took this photo of police and paramedics attending to a man on Dufferin Place Wednesday morning. (Bill Holland)

The report also states witnesses said Mahoney refused to stop or drop his weapon, and that the deployment of the conducted energy weapon was ineffective.

Security video

Security video from 12 locations was reviewed, including from McDonald's, a Transit Windsor bus and Mahoney's apartment.

Video from Mahoney's apartment showed him leaving the building that morning carrying a butcher's block of knives.

Footage obtained from Shopper's Drug Mart at 600 Ouellette showed the most detail, with the movement of Mahoney through the area, as well as the movements of the officers involved. It shows an officer falling backward over the half-wall, as well as officers approaching Mahoney. 

The SIU report says there was no available video during the time of the actual shooting.

Forensic evidence collected

This drawing depicts the scene, where the evidence was located, and the immediate surrounding area. (Submitted by SIU)

Five cartridge casings were recovered, consistent with the second officer's service pistol.

Two casings consistent with the first officer's service pistol were also recovered.

The knife carried by Mahoney was located on the ground near one of the police vehicles.

A photo of the knife found at the scene. (Submitted by SIU)

Post-mortem conducted

A forensic pathologist at London Health Sciences Centre conducted a post-mortem examination on March 22. 

There were seven gunshot wounds revealed, including three which may represent one gunshot. Those three were considered superficial wounds, with no bullets recovered.

The shots that killed Matthew Mahoney

CBC News Windsor

2 years ago
0:26
The Special Investigations Unit's report broke down the seven shots that Windsor police officers fired at Mahoney. 0:26

One wound, considered fatal, caused extensive damage to the left lung. Two others were potentially-life threatening and the pathologist determined they contributed to death because of blood loss. A seventh wound was not life-threatening. 

Bloodwork revealed tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in Mahoney's system, at 28 ng/mL.

Shots fired

According to Loparco, it is impossible to determine the order of the gunshots with the information available. 

"I find it likely that [the first officer] initially discharged his weapon while the complainant was attacking him with the knife and that once the complainant advanced on [the second officer] and began to close the gap [the second officer] discharged a volley of shots and then in all likelihood [the first officer] then also again discharged his firearm," Loparco said in the report.

"It is impossible to determine with certainty the order of gunshots in the absence of any evidence, in this case it is not necessary to do so."

SIU analysis

SIU assigned 10 investigators to the case: six investigators and four forensic investigators. Eighteen civilian witnesses and seven officers were interviewed. Notes from one additional officer were also reviewed. 

After a ten-month long investigation, director Loparco's report determined that police did not use more force than was necessary in their "execution of a lawful duty."

"I believe it would have been foolish and reckless for [officers] to risk their lives by waiting for the complainant, with knife in hand, to further close the gap between himself and the officers, thereby putting their own lives and the lives of each other at immediate risk of injury or death."

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