SIU Turns to Dubious “Suicide by Cop” to Let Off Cops Who Killed Alex Wettlaufer

Based on the outcomes of several recent coroners’ inquests and investigations by oversight agencies it appears that the “suicide by cop” excuse is being used to let killer cops off the hook in various jurisdictions in Canada. It is becoming a “go to” justification for killer cops. The numerous problems with this bogus conclusion have been outlined in several reports for this project.

On May 16, 2017 the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Ontario added to the suicide by cop chorus legitimizing police killings of civilians in the case of the killing of 21-year-old Alex Wettlaufer by Toronto Police on March 13, 2016. Wettlaufer was shot three times while isolated in the Villaways Park in North York after a lengthy standoff in which it seems clear police had multiple opportunities to use non-lethal means and/or have a health care provider attend.

Two 911 calls apparently made by Wettlaufer suggested he needed health care assistance. Yet no health care personnel were dispatched to the scene. Only police. And they waited for the Toronto Police Emergency Task Force (ETF) to arrive. Wettlaufer was said to be holding a cell phone and a BB gun.

The claim of suicide by cop is especially dubious in this case given that on at least one occasion during the interaction with police Wettlaufer tried to get away by fleeing into the woods at Villaways Park. Police pursued him seemingly cornering him. By the SIU’s own account Wettlauufer even put down his BB gun several times. During the standoff the young man was alone on a bridge in the park. It is not clear that he posed any threat to the public at that time. By the SIU account, ETF had taken cover in the woods, being able to see Wettlaufer isolated and alone on the bridge. He was also apparently on his cellphone with 911 and expressing his distress during the standoff. And still no health care providers were deployed. So police, in positions of cover, shoot a distressed youth, on the phone with 911, who is alone on a bridge, and who has repeatedly set his BB gun down. And this is “suicide by cop.” The leap of logic by SIU director Tony Loparco is perplexing. In his conclusion: “ “Given that Mr. Wettlaufer was no doubt aware that he had a mere BB gun in hand, his actions lead me to the conclusion that he was attempting to bait the police into fatally shooting him by creating a perilous situation.” Quite a claim.

The three officers who killed Wettlaufer did not participate in the investigation as is their right under the limited and insufficient oversight rules. The investigation took fourteen months despite the SIU goalpost of 120 days.

As a  result of the SIU report no charges will be laid against the three officers who opened fire on Wettlaufer.

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