Ontario's Special Investigations Unit has cleared a Toronto police officer of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a 40-year-old man in crisis in an east end parking lot in May.
In a report released on Thursday, SIU director Joseph Martino says there are no grounds to proceed with charges against the police officer who shot the man twice in the abdomen.
The shooting happened on May 10 in a parking lot in the area of Danforth and Victoria Park avenues shortly after noon. The man was pronounced dead in hospital within an hour of the shooting.
Family members previously identified the man killed as Andrew Geisler. His sister and father told CBC News that Geisler needed help because he suffered from depression and anxiety and struggled with alcoholism.
"He needed help. He needed someone to get him to a hospital and that's where he's supposed to be," his sister Lesley Geisler previously said.
The SIU has not identified Geisler by name.
The SIU said the man confronted the officer with a knife and the officer drew his firearm. The man refused to drop the knife when asked to do so repeatedly, and advanced on the officer, the police watchdog said.
The man was twice shot while within six metres of the officer, according to the SIU.
Martino says in the report that the use of lethal force by the police officer was justified because he was defending himself from a knife attack.
"On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the [subject official] committed a criminal offence in connection with the complainant's death," he says.
"The weapon the complainant was wielding was capable of inflicting grievous bodily harm and death, and the complainant seemed intent on using it against the [subject official] and had neared to within striking distance of the officer at the time of the shooting."
Toronto police are pictured here at the scene of the fatal shooting in May. (CBC)
According to the SIU, an off-duty paramedic flagged down a police officer after seeing a man in distress in the parking lot. The man was believed to be holding an edged weapon.
The SIU says the man appeared to be of "unsound mind" when the officer located him, was "agitated and speaking to himself," and was bleeding from self-inflicted cuts to both of his arms.
Johnathan Stavrou, the off-duty paramedic, previously told CBC News in an interview that the man appeared to be in "a clear state of mental health crisis."
"I think trauma and mental health is so poorly misunderstood nowadays and so I just wish I could have broken through and provided him with the help that he deserved," Stavrou said.
Stavrou performed CPR on the man and attempted to control the bleeding until paramedics arrived.
For its part, Geisler's family has said his death should be part of a broader conversation around the police's response to mental health and distress calls.
The issue has been thrust into the spotlight in recent years after the deaths of Ejaz Choudry, D'Andre Campbell, Regis Korchinski-Paquet and others during interactions with police, which sparked calls for change and a decrease in funding for police services across the Greater Toronto Area.
The SIU investigates cases of serious injury, death and allegations of sexual assault involving police, as well as cases where police discharge firearms at people.