Ontario police fired a bullet that struck and killed a one-year-old boy during a standoff near Lindsay last year, the province’s police watchdog has confirmed.
On the morning of Nov. 26, 2020, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were called to the municipality of Trent Lakes for a domestic dispute involving a firearm.
At the time, officers said they were made aware that a 33-year-old man had allegedly abducted his infant son.
A vehicle of interest was located on Sturgeon Road and officers attempted to stop it. The pick-up truck later became involved in a crash with an OPP cruiser and a civilian vehicle on Pigeon Lake Road.
As a confrontation occurred between three officers and the man, gunfire erupted.
The baby was pronounced dead at the scene after being found inside the truck suffering from a gunshot wound.
On Thursday, Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) confirmed that the child’s death “was the result of being shot by police.”
“On that date, the one-year-old boy died in the course of an interaction between the boy’s 33-year-old father and Ontario Provincial Police officers,” the SIU said in a news release.
The child’s father, who the SIU said was also shot by police, was rushed from the scene to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
The SIU designated four investigators, two forensic investigators and one collision reconstructionist to the case.
On Thursday, the SIU said it had reviewed the results of the post-mortem examination performed on the child, as well as reports prepared by the Centre of Forensic Sciences of analyses conducted with respect to bloodstains in the pickup truck, the trajectory of shots that struck the truck, and firearms, cartridge cases and projectiles.
A spokesperson for the police watchdog, Monica Hudon, added that the investigation is ongoing.
“We are awaiting additional forensic reports including the post-mortem report for the father,” she said. “Once all of the evidence is in, the director will examine that evidence to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to lay charges.”
Last month, the police watchdog said the three officers involved had so far refused to be interviewed. On Thursday, Hudon confirmed that has not changed.
“Three officers discharged their firearm in the course of the incident,” Hudon said. “As such, they were designated as subject officers. They have not as yet availed themselves of an opportunity to be interviewed.”
“It’s important to note that subject officers are under no legal obligation to speak with the SIU but may if they choose to do so.”
The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police officers where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
The OPP Association released a statement on the matter following the SIU’s update on the case on Thursday.
“We are all devastated when a child tragically dies,” the statement said. “Our heartfelt condolences are extended to the mother and family of a one-year-old little boy who tragically died near Lindsay, Ont. on Nov. 26, 2020.”
“The OPP Association respects the investigative process. We continue to support our members affected by the incident.”