Ontario's police watchdog has cleared the West Nipissing Police Service in connection with an August 2018 shooting incident in Sturgeon Falls that ended in a murder and suicide.
Joseph Martino, interim director of the Special Investigations Unit, released the decision Thursday, said there was no evidence that officers fired their guns as the tragedy unfolded Aug. 26 last year.
“A clear and compelling picture of the events in question emerges from the information gathered by the SIU in its investigation,” Martino writes.
The tragedy unfolded just after 8 p.m. that day, when 911 calls were made to police reporting that a suspect had shot a woman and man. It emerged the woman who had been shot had been dating the suspect for a month and a half, and the man who had been shot was her son. Police later identified the deceased man as Jamie Boyd, 35.
“Returning to the (suspect's) home after an evening out with her sister and her partner, (the woman) found the (suspect) inebriated and belligerent,” Martino's report says. “The (suspect) got even angrier when (the woman) told him she was leaving for the night and they would talk the following morning.”
When she went inside the home to retrieve some clothes, and as she was getting in her red Pontiac Sunfire, the man emerged from his home holding a Ruger Model 10/22, .22 LR calibre semi-automatic rifle.
He then shot and killed the son and shot and wounded the woman. He took her hostage, bleeding and wounded, and told her “he would soon kill her and then shoot himself.”
When he was distracted, she managed to escape into the woods and flag down a car, later taking refuge in a neighbour's home where 911 was called and police were dispatched.
West Nipissing police, including tactical officers, and paramedics responded. While tending to the woman's injuries, “one of the paramedics reported that shots were being fired at the residence.”
The woman was taken away in an ambulance while police took up positions north and south of the area, evacuating neighbours along Leblanc Road where the tragedy was unfolding.
The Pontiac Sunfire, now being driven by the suspect, came up the road. He got out and began firing the rifle towards police until about 9:30 p.m.
OPP emergency teams arrived and took over control of the scene by midnight. Around 1:15 a.m., they found the lifeless body of the woman's son, but the mobile home where the suspect lived was empty.
“The team continued down the driveway toward Leblanc Road and came upon the Pontiac Sunfire, which was empty,” the SIU report says. “Officers cleared the scene in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle and were joined by a police dog and its handler to continue the search.”
The canine found the man's body around 2 a.m. “lying in tall grass north of the vehicle with a gunshot wound to the head. A rifle was positioned on the ground adjacent to his body.”
An autopsy performed at Health Sciences North determined the cause of death was a close-range gunshot wound to the head. A deformed .22 calibre bullet was removed from his skull.
In his analysis, Martino concluded police did nothing to contribute to any injuries or violated the law in any way.
“On the contrary, the evidence indicates they acted with professionalism and resolve in dealing with a situation that could well have escalated beyond its already tragic dimensions,” he wrote. “Officers responded swiftly and took prompt action to block traffic and evacuate residents in the area.
“With the use of unmanned aerial surveillance equipment, night vision goggles and a police dog, they located the two individuals, both deceased, in fairly short order. At no point did any of the officers involved in the operation discharge a firearm.
“The file is closed.”