No charges for OPP officer after ARWEN discharge in Greater Napanee

The ARWEN discharged in Greater Napanee on Jan. 3, 2022. Image via SIU,

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has closed the case on an investigation into an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer who discharged an Anti-Riot Weapon Enfield (ARWEN) at a 58-year-old man earlier this year.

According to a statement from the SIU, on January 3, 2022, officers were called to a residence near Highway 41 and County Road 14 in the Township of Stone Mills for a man in distress with a rifle. Officers attempted to apprehend the man under the Mental Health Act.

The man exited his home and refused repeated police commands to drop the firearm he was holding, SIU stated. An officer struck the man three times with ARWEN rounds. The man fell and dropped the gun, and a police dog bit his left leg. He was handcuffed and taken to hospital. SIU said that the man was not seriously injured.

The SIU’s mandate was invoked because a police officer discharged an ARWEN, which is classified as a firearm, according to the SIU. Under the Special Investigations Unit Act, a firearm is defined as a barreled weapon from which any shot, bullet or other projectile can be discharged and that is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to a person.

The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Joseph Martino, has found no reasonable grounds to believe that the OPP officer committed a criminal offence, saying that the firing of the ARWEN “constituted legally justified force in aid of the Complainant’s arrest.”

“In what appears to have been a deliberate attempt to provoke the officers into a lethal confrontation, the Complainant emerged from inside his home with a .22 calibre rifle – a weapon clearly capable of inflicting grievous bodily harm and death,” continued Martino. “When he did so, and then raised it in the direction of the officers, the Complainant gave them every reason to believe that their lives were in immediate danger. In the circumstances, it is apparent that the officer’s use of the ARWEN, a less lethal firearm, was a tactic reasonably available to the officer in the moment as it carried the prospect of quickly neutralizing the Complainant without inflicting serious injury. And, in fact, that is precisely what occurred. Three of the ARWEN discharges met their mark and temporarily incapacitated the Complainant, freeing the weapon from his hold and dropping the Complainant to the ground. Thereafter, with the use of a police dog, the officers were able to safely approach the Complainant and take him into custody.”

Read the full report here.

The SIU is an independent government agency that investigated the conduct of police officers that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault, and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians.

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