SIU clears officer in fatal shooting of 49-year-old man under Rainbow Bridge this winter

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has concluded there are no grounds to charge an officer after a 49-year-old man was fatally shot by Niagara Parks police in February.

The SIU Director’s Report says Niagara Parks Police Service officers were called to 5920 River Road, an area under the Rainbow Bridge, twice on Feb. 28 for reports that a man was harassing pedestrians.

During the first interaction, the report says, officers attended the scene in the early afternoon along with an employee from the Canadian Mental Health Association – Niagara, assigned as a crisis worker to the NRPS Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team.

At that time, the report says, officers agreed “the best course was to de-escalate the situation by removing themselves.”

Just after 2 p.m., two officers responded again to the area for reports of the man harassing passersby. They said they were asked by the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission to remove the man from the property.

SIU investigators say a “confrontation ensued” between the officers and the man, in which the man allegedly discharged pepper spray at the officers while armed with a knife. It was at this time, they say, that an officer discharged their weapon at the man.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 2:31 p.m. Following the incident, two officers attended a local hospital for minor injuries.

At 2:56 p.m., the SIU says, they were notified of the firearm-related death.

The SIU Director’s Report into the case says the officer who shot the man declined to be interviewed, “as is their legal right,” but provided notes to investigators.

Seven civilians and five officials who witnessed the incident were interviewed.