Prosecutors will not press charges against officer who shot man, injuring him, in 2018

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Provincial prosecutors have refused to press charges against a police officer who shot a man--who had raised his empty hands--in an alley off of Saint-Michel Blvd. in 2018.

The prosecutor's office, the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et penales (DPCP), on Monday released a report outlining the event and the reasons they chose not to press charges against the officers involved.

On Aug. 7, 2018, just before 2 p.m., a woman called 911, the report read, warning that a man who had come to see his son was armed with a revolver. He was standing on Saint-Michel Blvd., speaking to the woman, who was on a balcony.

He pulled a gun out of his waistband and threatened the woman, the report continued, telling her he was going to kill his son. The boy, however, was not there, the woman told him.

When police arrived, a neighbour warned them that the man was in an alleyway. Officers were pursuing the man on foot when another neighbour yelled at them. The man had a gun, the neighbour said.

In the alley, the two officers pulled out their pistols, pointed them at the man, and told him to put his hands up. He didn't, according to the DPCP's report. Instead, he walked away from police and later raised his arms, showing empty hands. Police didn't see a weapon at that moment, the report added.

The man walked farther down the alley and was turning towards a lane that leads to Saint-Michel Blvd., one of the officers suspected. His hands were at shoulder level, according to the report.

The officer fired a shot towards him, but he kept walking. The same officer then fired again, hitting the man in the shoulder. He fell to the ground, and the two police officers administered first aid while waiting for an ambulance, the DPCP report concluded.

After they shot him, police learned from neighbours that the man had earlier discarded his weapon under a car in the alleyway. It was an air pistol. The man admitted to disobeying police orders to stop, prosecutors said.

A witness had watched the altercation from a balcony.

Police officers are allowed, under law, to shoot someone as long as their motives are "reasonable" to protect themselves and others. They can also shoot someone who flees arrest to protect others, the DPCP report notes, as long as there is no other way to stop them. 

In deciding not to press charges, the DPCP noted that in applying force, police officers are not expected to be perfect. They are often put in situations where they are expected to make difficult decisions quickly.

The officers had "reasonable grounds" to believe the man was armed with a pistol, and it was reasonable to fear he would fire on people nearby.

"Although the man raised his hands at shoulder height in response to the orders given by the police, this partial surrender was insufficient in the circumstances," the report reads.

The report released Monday is the product of months of investigation by the Independent Bureau of Investigations (BEI), who investigate when someone is injured or killed during a police operation, and the DPCP.

Since it was founded in 2016, no BEI investigation has resulted in charges against a police officer.