SIU clears Halton officer in shooting
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.
Grayson Delong, left, allegedly shot criminal lawyer Randall Barrs.