A Toronto police officer is facing charges in connection with the shooting of a man in a park in the city’s northwest earlier this year, according to the province’s police watchdog.
In a news release Friday, Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said Const. Andrew Davis faces the following criminal charges:
Davis is due to appear in the Ontario Court of Justice on October 3.
The SIU said its investigation found that on Feb. 27, officers were called to a park in the area of Black Creek Drive and Trethewey Drive for a report of a man with a knife. Two officers fired Tasers at the man, while another officer fired his gun twice.
The man, 31, was taken to hospital with serious injuries, the SIU said. No other injuries were reported.
The injured man was later identified as Devon Fowlin.
Weeks after he was wounded, Fowlin spoke out about the incident, alleging that police did not attempt to calm the situation before shooting him.
Fowlin said he was walking his dog that morning with a knife in his hand, calling it “the knife I cook with and live with inside my vehicle.” His attorney at the time said he was homeless.
“I also pray, you know, with him, so I was saying a prayer that same morning,” Fowlin said, adding that there was no one else in the park around him.
Fowlin told reporters that he raised his arm while holding the knife several times when he was in the area, and that the third time he did so, he saw a Honda Civic driven by a police officer pull into the park parking lot.
As the officer approached him, Fowlin said he tried to walk away to get his dog into his own vehicle.
It was then, he said, that two police SUVs pulled into the parking lot, blocked his vehicle, and five officers got out and lined up side by side.
Fowlin said the officers pointed their guns at him “immediately.”
“They yelled an order and I immediately felt a gunshot, and right after that I heard several gunshots,” Fowlin said.
Fowlin said he dropped the knife and ran, before falling at the intersection of Black Creek and Trethewey Drive.
Lawyer ‘pleased’ by SIU’s decision to file charges
Fowlin’s attorney, David Shellnutt, said he was “pleased to see serious charges being brought in this very disturbing case.”
In a statement, Shellnut called the SIU’s decision to charge the officer “a rare step” and expressed gratitude for his “thoughtful and compassionate investigation.”
However, Shellnut said he wonders what was involved in this case that made it unique and why the SIU didn’t file similar charges in other police shooting cases.
“This is a positive step for Devon and his family. However, it does not erase what he went through and what he has endured, serious injuries that are both physical and psychological in nature,” Shellnut said.
“These injuries have made the last few months since the shooting almost unbearable. Life has been incredibly difficult… The costs to Devon, his family and our communities are incredibly high for incidents like this.”
The SIU investigates the conduct of law enforcement officials when death, serious injury, sexual assault, or the discharge of a firearm against a person has occurred.
The SIU says that as the matter is before the courts, and in consideration of the accused’s fair trial interests, it will not provide further comment on the investigation.
The Toronto Police Service also declined to comment when contacted by CBC.