Ontario’s police watchdog says two Vancouver cops were justified in their use of less-lethal firearms on protesters during the anti-COVID-mandate trucker convoy in Ottawa.
The officers, who aren’t named in the Special Investigation Unit’s June 20 report, were some of dozens of cops called in from various parts of Canada in February when downtown Ottawa became occupied by protesters.
On the evening of Feb. 19, the Vancouver officers were part of a police operation to push back protesters from a downtown area so they could fence it off. Ontario’s police watchdog says the protesters – estimated to number up to several thousand – were face-to-face with the cops, and the atmosphere was tense.
“…the parties physically engaged and pushed back against each other,” Special Investigations Unit Director Joseph Martino said in his report.
At one point, Martino said two protesters climbed atop a concrete barrier next to another man. That man, whose identity remains unknown, shone a bright flashlight into the eyes of police down below.
In response, one of the two Vancouver officers fired less-lethal rounds at the man, hitting him in the face and knocking him off the barrier. The officer’s rounds also struck the other two protesters atop the barrier, who spoke with the Special Investigation Unit.
Meanwhile, the second Vancouver officer fired less-lethal rounds in another area of the operation to deter oncoming protesters. He struck one in the leg.
No serious injuries were reported in any of the incidents, according to Martino.
Neither of the officers agreed to be interviewed by the Special Investigations Unit or provide it with their notes, but Martino said he was still able to conclude the officers’ actions fell within their lawful duties.
Martino said it would have been impractical, and possibly dangerous, for the first officer to wade through the crowd and engage with the men on the concrete barrier directly. The second officer, Martino said, was defending against protesters who “seemed on the verge of physically engaging with the officers.”
In both cases, Martino said the use of less-lethal ammunition was successful in deterring the protesters and justifiable by the officers. He concluded there are no grounds for criminal charges.