Special Investigations Unit (SIU)

Special Investigations Unit (SIU)

April 12, 2005 13:23 ET

SIU Concludes Toronto Shooting Investigation

Attention: News Editor TORONTO--(CCNMatthews - April 12, 2005) - The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), James L. Cornish, has determined that a Toronto Police Service (TPS) officer was legally justified in fatally shooting Courtney Peters on October 14, 2004.

The SIU investigation revealed that on that date, TPS drug squad officers were conducting surveillance on a suspected drug trafficker. Plain-clothes officers followed the man to Ellesmere Road and Victoria Park Avenue where he parked his car adjacent to a Petro-Canada gas station, located at the northeast corner of the intersection. The man walked toward the gas station where another man, later identified as Mr. Peters, arrived. Mr. Peters was in a black Infiniti and was stopped in the parking lot; the car's engine was running. The man got into the passenger side of Mr. Peters' car. Several officers in unmarked police cars positioned themselves at various locations around the parking lot and other officers mingled with the patrons at the gas pumps.

One of the officers saw what he believed to be was a drug transaction taking place between the man and Mr. Peters inside the car. At approximately 10:30 p.m., the surveillance team leader authorized the officers to move in and arrest the men as they sat in the Infiniti.

Three plain-clothes officers, wearing ballistic vests with "POLICE" markings, approached the car on foot with their guns drawn. The subject officer approached from the passenger's side while the other 2 officers approached from the front and on the driver's side. The officers yelled out they were police officers and ordered the men not to move.

As the subject officer approached the car, the passenger's door opened. The officer used the door for cover, shouted at the 2 men to show their hands, and pointed his gun into the car. Although the passenger raised his hands, Mr. Peters did not obey the officer's command to show his hands. Mr. Peters had his hands between his legs and was looking down. The officer again demanded that Mr. Peters show his hands. Mr. Peters accelerated and the car jolted forward from a stopped position and turned into the subject officer. The officer fired twice at or around the time the car struck him. Mr. Peters was shot and the officer was knocked to the ground by the car. The car came to a stop after colliding with one of the unmarked police cars that had pulled in front of the Infiniti to block it in.

Mr. Peters sat in the driver's seat mortally wounded and was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. The subject officer received a soft tissue injury to his left neck and shoulder.

Director Cornish weighed factors determining whether lethal force was necessary including:
· the manner in which Mr. Peters used his car that night;
· Mr. Peters' movements inside the car;
· Mr. Peters' non-compliance with police commands;
· the fact this was a high risk situation for the officers;
· the location of other officers near the Infiniti;
· the presence of innocent bystanders; and,
· the unavailability or impracticality of any retreat options.

In the end result the Director stated, "The officer had a reasonable and honestly held belief that Mr. Peters posed a real and imminent threat to the officer's life and safety and to the lives and safety of those in the vicinity. I believe the use of lethal force was necessary to attempt to end that threat."

The SIU is a civilian agency that investigates circumstances involving police and civilians which have resulted in serious injury, sexual assault or death. Under Part VII, Section 113, of the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU has the sole authority to decide whether or not charges are warranted based on the findings of a complete investigation. The Director's decision is reported to the Attorney General.


Rose Bliss
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de telephone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529

Contact Information

  • Rose Bliss, Communications Manager, Special Investigations Unit
    Primary Phone: 416-622-2342