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Dryden Police officers cleared of charges in shooting incident

The Special Investigation Unit was contacted following a shooting incident involving two Dryden Police Service officers who fired upon a man who rammed their cruiser with a pickup truck in September 2021.

DRYDEN, Ont. - Two Dryden Police Service officers who discharged their firearms at a man who was ramming their police cruiser with a pickup truck have been cleared of any charges by the Special Investigations Unit.

The SIU was contacted by the Dryden Police Service on morning of Oct. 1, 2021 to report an incident involving the discharging of firearms by two officers the previous night.

The incident took place at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2021 when officers with the Dryden Police Service received reports of a disturbance at a rural address on Highway 17.

Upon their arrival, officers observed the 40-year-old Complainant running across the yard and they stopped in the driveway and exited the cruiser. The Complainant then entered a pickup truck that was facing the parked cruiser.

The Complainant accelerated in the direction of the cruiser and while first appearing to go past it on the driver’s side, it changed direction suddenly and collided with the cruiser, sending it backwards and rotating, striking at least one of the officers. At this time one of the officers discharge single shot in the direction of the pickup truck.

The two officers sought cover behind some trees and the Complainant travelled in a wide arc and was again facing the officers, who had taken cover behind some trees. The two officers both opened fire at the truck when it accelerated again and it came to a stop between the trees the officers had been using for cover and the cruiser.

A total of 33 shots were discharged between the two officers.

The Complainant exited the vehicle and lay on the ground before being placed under arrest. The Complainant threatened to kill the arresting officer, saying he knew where he lived.

Following the arrest, the Complainant was transported to hospital where he was diagnosed with fractured ribs. He did not sustain any gunshot wounds.

One of the officers was also treated for sprained ankles resulting from being struck by the police cruiser when it was hit by the pickup truck.

As part of the investigation, the SIU identified the two Subject Officers, as well as four civilian witnesses who were interviewed by investigators, as well as the Complainant. One of the Subject Officers was interviewed but declined to submit notes, while the second Subject Officer declined to be interviewed and submit any notes, which is a legal right.

The investigation also included an examination of the scene and physical evidence, including the officer’s firearms, the police cruiser that sustained heavy damage, and the Complainants pickup truck, where a total of 17 bullet impacts were observed.

According to SIU director, Joseph Martino, the two Subject Officers were lawfully placed at the residence after being dispatched following a 911 call reporting a disturbance.

“I accept that each of the officers fired their weapons to protect themselves from a reasonably apprehended attack,” Martino writes. “Subject Officer 1 believed that the Complainant was attempting to strike them down with his pickup truck.”

Martino goes on to write that actions of the Complainant came close to killing the officers who were fortunate to escape serious injury by standing on the passenger side of the cruiser.

He also writes that Subject Officer 2 was justified in discharging his firearm a single time after the first impact.

“I am also satisfied that the same is true of the multiple rounds discharged by Subject Officer 1 and Subject Officer 2 at the Complainant as the pickup truck then completed a 360-degree turn so that it was again bearing down on the officers, who had by that time sought cover behind some trees by their wrecked SUV,” Martino writes.

Martino added that the pickup truck had become a weapon in the hands of the Complainant and was capable of causing serious bodily harm or death.

“I am unable to fault the officers for attempting to incapacitate the operating mind of the pickup truck – the Complainant – by firing in his direction,” Martino writes. “That decision, I am satisfied, was a reasonable response to the exigencies at hand as it was the only option available to deter what was a potentially lethal attack on their persons by the Complainant.”

The SIU is called upon to investigate when an interaction involving police results in death, serious injury, involves the discharge of a firearm at a person, or allegations of sexual assault.

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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