Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit has concluded its investigation into the shooting death of Andrew Loku last summer. Tony Loparco, the director of the SIU, announced yesterday no charges will be laid against the Toronto police officer who fatally shot the hammer-wielding 45-year-old.
The SIU determined Toronto police were called around midnight on July 5, 2015 to go to an apartment at 502 Gilbert Avenue in the city’s west end. The caller told the 911 operator a man was in her friend’s apartment and refused to leave. He had a hammer and was threatening to kill the woman.
Two officers arrived and located Loku in the third floor hallway, still in possession of the hammer. When he was about eight to nine metres from the officers, they ordered him to drop the hammer. He refused and kept coming towards them. As he approached he said, “What are you going to do, come on, shoot me.” The 45-year-old kept advancing and when he got to within two or three metres of the police officers, he raised the hammer above his head. One of the officers then fired two shots, hitting Loku in the chest.
The SIU found Loku had been given reasonable opportunities to drop the hammer and the hallway was such it was not practical for the officers to back up and put more space between them and Loku. The hallway was narrow and the officers were near the stairwell and there was insufficient room for them to back away from the man.
The agency accepted the fact the officer fired his weapon because he was in fear for his life and the life of his partner. That fear was found to be reasonable under the circumstances and the force used justified. As a result, no criminal charges will be laid against the subject officer.
Newstalk1010 reports Loku lived in a building that contains units leased by the Canadian Mental Health Association to provide affordable housing for the mentally ill.
Protests were held after Loku’s death. As Global News reported last summer, protesters, some of them with Black Lives Matter-Toronto, attended a meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board to complain about how Toronto police deal with the black community. And a group shut down a portion of the Spadina Expressway, close to where the shooting took place, to demand answers including the names of the officers who were present on July 5.
The Special Investigations Unit is a provincial agency at arm’s length from the police. Its mandate is to investigate incidents where serious harm or death results from interaction with police or if a police officer is alleged to have committed a sexual assault.