TORONTO —; Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared two Guelph police officers in the fatal shooting of a man allegedly armed with scissors at Guelph General Hospital last year.
The Special Investigations Unit said in a release that Brandon Duncan entered the hospital just after noon on May 20 and spent about 45 minutes in the waiting area before entering the triage area. Duncan then allegedly told a nurse there was an issue with his colostomy bag and she provided him with a pair of bandage scissors to fix the problem, which is when he entered a bathroom.
The SIU said Duncan emerged from the bathroom two minutes later “bleeding profusely from fresh cuts on both of his forearms,” adding that he was “clenching” the scissors.
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Investigators said Duncan then walked up to a young woman and grabbed her by the back of the neck and allegedly attempted to “jab her with the pair of scissors” before her boyfriend intervened and pushed Duncan away.
Two nearby officers working in the hospital heard the woman scream and rushed towards the area, when Duncan allegedly turned to the officers “brandishing the scissors.”
The SIU said the two officers then drew their firearms and pointed them at Duncan, who allegedly began to move towards the officers who were seen backing up on surveillance video.
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Duncan then allegedly continued to move towards the officers and increased his walking speed before both officers fired their weapons at him.
Investigators said four seconds elapsed between the time the officers drew their guns and fired. An autopsy revealed Duncan was shot six times and died from trauma as a result of the gunshot wounds.
“As soon as the officers entered the scene they could see an assault in progress involving a man armed with a pair of scissors who was acting in a violent manner. The man’s arms were covered in blood,” said SIU Director Tony Loparco.
“From that point onwards, it was a matter of seconds until the shooting, at which time I have no doubt that both officers feared for their own lives, the lives of one another, and those of the various civilians in the immediate area.”
Loparco said Duncan continued to “quickly close the distance” between himself and the officers with his weapon drawn and the officers opened fire “only when there were no other apparent options available.”
He added that the available evidence was satisfactory to show that there was legal justification for the use of force in the shooting and no charges would be laid against the unnamed officers.
A couple who was outside the hospital told Global News last year they saw a woman partly covered in blood following the shooting.
“I heard gunshots and saw a woman with blood on her hands,” said Eric Brown.
“A woman came running out … I did see blood on her leg,” said Yvonne Morton. “[She was] screaming, ‘My boyfriend is shooting at me,’ … I saw her collapse.”
The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.
Eight investigators and three forensic investigators were assigned to probe the circumstances of the incident. The two subject officers in this investigation declined to participate in SIU interviews and did not provide copies of their duty notes, while seven witness officers and more than two dozen civilian witnesses were interviewed.
With files from Andrew Russell