Nearly three months after an armed confrontation in rural Canada, a police watchdog has concluded that a police bullet killed a one-year-old baby when officers opened fire on his father’s truck.
In its first public finding on Thursday, Ontario’s special investigations unit said that a review of evidence indicated police gunfire was the cause of the child’s death on 27 November.
“Upon receipt and review of additional forensic evidence in this case, including the results of the postmortem examination performed on a child, and 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, the SIU can today confirm that the child’s death … was the result of being shot by police,” the watchdog said.
The incident began when officers in the community of Kawartha Lakes responded to a domestic dispute. Police were told the father had abducted his one-year-old son and was potentially armed.
After police attempted to stop the father’s pickup truck, it collided with a police car and another vehicle. Three officers then fired their guns towards the vehicle, according to the SIU.
The boy, who was in the back seat of the pickup truck, was struck by a bullet and pronounced dead at the scene. The 33-year-old father was also struck by police gunfire and died of his injuries one week later. Neither the infant nor the father has been named. Investigators seized two police-issued rifles and one police-issued pistol from the scene, as well as a pistol from the pickup truck.
The SIU’s findings come 77 days after the shooting, amid a lack of public transparency during the investigation.
Last month, the SIU said that none of the officers who opened fire on a pickup truck had agreed to interviews, adding that they had no legal obligation to do so.
“We are all devastated when a child tragically dies,” the province’s police force said in a statement following the SIU’s conclusion that officers were responsible for the infant’s death.
No charges were laid on Thursday and the SIU says it is continuing to investigate the incident.