SIU clears Hal­ton of­fi­cer in shoot­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - WENDY GIL­LIS

The Hal­ton po­lice of­fi­cer who shot a man in a bizarre mid­day shoot­ing in Toronto last year — sec­onds af­ter a lawyer was shot out­side his of­fice — will not face any crim­i­nal charges, the province’s po­lice watch­dog an­nounced Tues­day.

Grayson De­long, 51, was shot in Septem­ber 2016 by an un­der­cover Hal­ton Re­gional Po­lice of­fi­cer — im­me­di­ately af­ter De­long al­legedly shot Toronto lawyer Ran­dall Barrs out­side his law of­fice on Bed­ford Road.

At the time, De­long had been un­der sur­veil­lance by plain­clothes Hal­ton po­lice in con­nec­tion to a string of prop­erty of­fences in Burling­ton when he is alleged to have walked up to Barrs, shot him in the leg, then got back into his ve­hi­cle.

Sec­onds later, De­long was shot by the un­named Hal­ton of­fi­cer as he at­tempted to flee.

Both De­long and Barrs re­cov­ered from se­ri­ous, but non-life-threat­en­ing in­juries.

De­long was wear­ing a blond wig and a con­struc­tion vest at the time of the shoot­ing.

He was charged with 15 of­fences, in­clud­ing at­tempted mur­der and dis­guise with in­tent to com­mit an of­fence.

De­long’s case is cur­rently be­fore the courts.

“In the cir­cum­stances, the sub­ject of­fi­cer was legally jus­ti­fied in em­ploy­ing force in­tended to cause death or griev­ous bod­ily harm against a flee­ing sus­pect. Con­se­quently, there is no rea­son to be­lieve that a crim­i­nal of­fence has been com­mit­ted and no charges will is­sue,” Tony Loparco, direc­tor of the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions Unit (SIU), said in a state­ment Tues­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the SIU, De­long had been un­der sur­veil­lance by a team of plain­clothes of­fi­cers since 9 a.m. on Septem­ber 20, 2016, when De­long had been mak­ing a court ap­pear­ance in Bramp­ton.

Over the next few hours, the of­fi­cers trailed De­long as he left court, trav­elled to down­town Toronto, then parked on in the Yorkville area and emerged from his car in his con­struc­tion worker dis­guise, ac­cord­ing to the SIU.

Af­ter watch­ing him walk to a nearby park, where he stayed for about an hour, the of­fi­cers sus­pected De­long was about to com­mit a rob­bery and called in more po­lice.

Just af­ter 3 p.m., the SIU says De­long drove to Bed­ford Road, parked his ve­hi­cle across the street from Barrs’ of­fice and soon af­ter the un­named Hal­ton of­fi­cer took po­si­tion in a nearby build­ing where he could see De­long in­side his car.

“Sud­denly, Mr. De­long ex­ited the ve­hi­cle and ran up be­hind a male in­di­vid­ual, who was stand­ing at the rear of a ve­hi­cle in the drive­way of (Barrs’ of­fice). As the male slowly turned around, Mr. De­long dis­charged a semi-au­to­matic pis­tol,” ac­cord­ing to the SIU.

The Hal­ton of­fi­cer heard the gun­shots, shout­ing and scream­ing and ran out onto Bed­ford Road, where he saw De­long re-en­ter his ve­hi­cle car­ry­ing what he be­lieved was a gun, ac­cord­ing to the SIU.

The of­fi­cer took out his gun and yelled that he was po­lice while De­long be­gan driv­ing away. The ve­hi­cle then stopped, and De­long again fired his weapon, shat­ter­ing his car win­dow, the SIU re­lease states.

The of­fi­cer then fired three times at De­long, strik­ing him twice. As De­long’s car con­tin­ued rolling, an­other of­fi­cer drove his ve­hi­cle in front of De­long’s car to bring it to a stop.

Loparco con­cluded the of­fi­cer had rea­son­able grounds to be­lieve De­long had just shot some­body, and be­lieved De­long posed a threat to him, other of­fi­cers and to the public.

“There is no ques­tion that the sub­ject of­fi­cer was act­ing in the course of his du­ties when he fired his gun at the flee­ing Mr. De­long,” Loparco says in the state­ment. “The sub­ject of­fi­cer’s ac­tions in the cir­cum­stances were rea­son­able, re­spon­sive, mea­sured and thought­ful.”

Loparco’s state­ment also says the watch­dog con­sid­ered whether po­lice “ac­tions or omis­sions” could amount to crim­i­nal neg­li­gence caus­ing bod­ily harm with re­spect to Barrs’ in­juries. But he con­cluded that De­long could not have been ar­rested for any of­fences be­fore he is alleged to have fired at Barrs.

“Af­ter Mr. De­long donned his dis­guise, the team con­sulted with nearby po­lice ser­vices to de­ter­mine if Mr. De­long matched the de­scrip­tions of any wanted per­sons. He did not,” Loparco said.

The SIU in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­cluded in­ter­views with the of­fi­cer who shot De­long, four wit­ness of­fi­cers, 17 civil­ian wit­nesses and a re­view of pho­to­graphs, sur­veil­lance cam­era record­ings and a video record­ing from wit­nesses.

De­long has prior con­vic­tions in­clud­ing as­sault, as­sault­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer, break-and-en­ter and mis­chief.

Shortly af­ter the shoot­ing, sources within the le­gal com­mu­nity said Barrs did not know De­long and was not his lawyer. Records from Barrs’ court ap­pear­ances show De­long had been rep­re­sented by dif­fer­ent GTA lawyers, but not Barrs.

TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

Grayson De­long, left, al­legedly shot crim­i­nal lawyer Ran­dall Barrs.

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