Officer cleared by SIU in Mount Forest shooting

MISSISSAUGA – Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Ian Scott has concluded there are no reasonable grounds to charge an officer of the OPP’s Mount Forest Detachment with a criminal offence in regards to the firearm injury of a town man in late August of this year.
The SIU assigned six investigators and four forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of that incident. The SIU designated five officers as witness officers and one officer as a subject officer. Fourteen civilian witnesses were also interviewed.
The SIU’s investigation determined that on Aug. 27, the OPP was called to Travis Hieber’s residence in Mount Forest. Officers attempted to arrest him, but a scuffle ensued and Hieber fled into a wooded area. Attempts were made to locate him, but they were unsuccessful. Warrants were being prepared for Hieber’s arrest for a number of criminal offences.
On Aug. 31, at about 2:10pm, the OPP received information regarding Hieber’s whereabouts in Mount Forest. The police saw Hieber flee the area through the backyards north of Birmingham Street West.
He was eventually located in a Birmingham Street home. Two OPP officers approached him in the basement after receiving permission from the owner to enter the premises. A physical altercation ensued and Hieber was pepper sprayed, but the spray had little effect.
The SIU report said Hieber proceeded to pick up a wooden board and attack the officers with it. The witness officer was struck several times in the back. The subject officer discharged his firearm twice as Hieber then advanced upon him with the board. The bullet struck Hieber once in the torso. He was airlifted to Hamilton General Hospital for treatment.
Scott said, “In my view there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officer committed a criminal offence in relation to the firearms discharge injury caused to the complainant, Mr. Hieber, on Aug. 31 … The subject officer received information that the complainant, who was wanted, was in the basement laundry room of a home on Birmingham Street West. As best as can be determined, when the officers attempted to arrest Mr. Hieber he was wholly non-compliant in circumstances where the officers had the lawful authority to arrest him, and use reasonable force when met with resistance.”
Scott added,  that Hieber “punched the subject officer in the neck area.  He was not deterred by pepper spray. He made it clear that he was not going to submit to the arrest process, left the laundry room, and grabbed a plywood board measuring 21 ¼-  by 18- by 3/8-inches.  He started using it as a weapon against both officers. The witness officer left the laundry room and began running toward and up the stairs with Mr. Hieber directly behind him, striking his back with the board.
“The subject officer, who had his firearm unholstered, backed down the hallway and up the stairs.  Mr. Hieber ran up the stairs and gained ground on the subject officer. The subject officer discharged his firearm twice and Mr. Hieber was struck once.  Mr. Hieber sustained permanent injuries as a result of the firearm discharge.”
Scott concluded, “In my view, the subject officer may rely upon the justification provision of self-defence found in … the Criminal Code. The complainant through his actions and words made it clear that he was prepared to do whatever he had to do to escape from the two officers. He refused to comply with police demands.  He had already struck both officers and continued to swing at the witness officer with the plywood board as he was running away.”
Scott added it is likely that Hieber was continuing to narrow the gap between himself and the subject officer, and likely he had the plywood board in his hands. He said given the level of aggression by Hieber toward the two  officers and the fact that the complainant likely still had a weapon as he was closing in on the subject officer, “I am of the view that the subject officer may rely upon the self-defence justification provisions of the Criminal Code.”