Ontario's police watchdog will not charge an officer who shot and killed a knife-wielding woman in a Hamilton apartment last October, the arm's-length agency said yesterday as it wrapped up its investigation.
The officer was under immediate threat when he shot at the 30-year-old woman four times, striking her twice, said Joseph Martino, interim director of the Special Investigations Unit.
The woman “was highly agitated and completely unresponsive as the officers . . . attempted to speak with her to defuse the situation,” Martino wrote in a report summing up his findings.
She “could not be appeased. Nor was she willing to drop the knife she had in her right hand.”
The incident began in the early hours of Oct. 20, 2018, when a neighbour called 911 to report that a woman had attacked a man in his apartment with a hammer.
The caller reported the woman was threatening to kill herself and had cut her neck with a knife.
Martino said the woman was “under the influence of non-prescription drugs and upset with a domestic situation” at the time.
Before going into the small bedroom where the woman was located, Martino said, the officers agreed that one would try to disarm her with a stun gun; if that didn't work and there was imminent danger, the other would try to stop her with his firearm.
They then entered the bedroom, which was cluttered with furniture, tools and clothing, as the man who lived there was re-flooring his living room and kitchen, the SIU report said.
The woman stood on the bed, cutting her neck with the knife, the report said, and one of the officers tried to subdue her with a stun gun to get her to stop.
When that didn't work, the woman “screamed and, raising the knife in the officers' direction, started to move toward them on the bed,” the report stated.
The other officer “again ordered her to drop the knife and then, backing up, discharged his weapon four times,” Martino wrote.
By that time, he said, the woman would have been within “striking distance” of both officers.
The officer who fired his gun “had a difficult decision to make and split seconds in which to make it,” Martino said.
“In fact, less than 30 seconds had expired from the moment (the officers) entered the apartment until shots were fired; the fact is the officers were embroiled in a rapidly developing situation without the luxury of time to consider their options.”
Martino said the woman's death was tragic, but the officer made a reasonable decision in firing his gun.