The Ontario Special Investigations Unit has cleared Ottawa Police officers of any criminal offence in connection with the shooting death of a 27-year-old Ottawa man fleeing from police after a bank robbery last March.
Following an investigation by nine investigators, SIU director Ian Scott found no reasonable grounds to believe that police officers committed a criminal offence in relation to the firearm death of Paul Jeffrey on March 6.
According to the SIU investigation report, police officers were dispatched to a reported armed bank robbery on Montreal Road at 7:02 p.m.
Officers responding to the call saw Jeffrey fleeing the area on foot with what appeared to be a black pistol in his possession. This pistol later turned out to be a replica.
At one point during the ensuing foot chase, Jeffrey threatened to shoot an officer, the SIU report states.
Other officers were then alerted via radio that Jeffrey might be armed and would shoot. At other points during the chase, Jeffrey pointed the gun in the direction of the officers, which prompted several officers to shoot at Jeffrey. He was struck and died from the injuries he sustained.
The SIU was not capable of determining which of the four officers fired the fatal shot.
Scott concluded that by running from the scene of a bank robbery and threatening to shoot an officer with a replica gun that could easily be mistaken for a real one, Jeffery led officers to believe he was “an armed fleeing felon who was prepared to use imminent lethal force against one or more of them.”
“The law is clear that a police officer may rely upon an honest and reasonable, but mistaken, belief in apprehending death or serious bodily harm before responding with lethal force,” he said.
“Accordingly, I cannot form the requisite grounds to believe that the subject officer who discharged the lethal bullet committed a criminal offence.”