Canada police officers refuse questions over one-year-old's shooting death

By Leyland Cecco

Two months after a one-year old boy was killed in a police shooting in rural Ontario, the officers involved have still not spoken to investigators, according to a police watchdog.

Ontario’s special investigations unit (SIU) said that none of the officers who opened fire on a pickup truck on 27 November have agreed to interviews, adding that they had no legal obligation to do so.

“Understandably, there is a pressing public interest in this case, including how the child died and whether it was gunfire from the father or [Ontario police] officers that caused the death,” the SIU said in a statement on Friday, acknowledging growing frustration over delays and criticisms of its opaque investigative process.

The incident began when officers in the community of Kawartha Lakes in Ontario were called to a domestic dispute involving a gun and the suspected abduction of the one-year-old by his father.

After police attempted to stop the father’s pickup truck it collided with a police car and another vehicle.

Three officers then fired their guns towards the vehicle, according to the SIU. The boy, who was in the back seat of the pickup truck, was hit by a bullet and pronounced dead at the scene. The father died of gunshot wounds one week later. Neither has been named.

“It’s too early for us to know why officers fired at the vehicle, and it’s too early for us to know exactly what transpired,” an SIU spokeswoman, Monica Hudon, told reporters at the time.

The SIU has been the target of criticism for a number of years. “Police interviews are rarely held within the regulatory time frames, and are all too often postponed – for weeks, sometimes even months,” said a report from Ontario’s ombudsman in 2008.

Since the incident, the SIU has interviewed 18 officers who were present, as well as 14 civilian witnesses. Investigators seized two police-issued rifles and one police-issued pistol from the scene, as well as a pistol from the pickup truck.

The initial forensic investigation of the truck has been completed but the SIU has not yet received the postmortem results of the infant and father or said when it plans to release its findings to the public.